Appearing Competent: A Study of Impression Management in U.S. and European CEO Profiles
AbstractAs a CEO’s reputation and symbolic power have been found to have positive effects on organizational effectiveness, corporate reputation, and financial analysts’ stock recommendations, companies have an interest in presenting their CEOs as competent vis-à-vis audiences, such as employees, the press, and the financial community. Departing from impression management, this article examines a sample of CEO profiles from corporate websites of large North American and European companies in a content-analytic design. The results indicate that impression management is more prevalent in North American CEO profiles. In particular, leadership roles in associations, the CEO’s social stance, nominations in the press, and the CEO’s involvement in political activities play a bigger role in the construction of CEO competence in North America. Whereas CEO profiles of North American companies show CEOs as active participants in social, political, and public life, European CEOs are presented as primarily business-focused.