Legitimacy, Communication and Leadership in the Turnaround Game


We study the effectiveness of leaders for inducing coordinated organizational change to a more efficient equilibrium, i.e., a turnaround. We compare communication from leaders to incentive increases and also compare the effectiveness of randomly selected and elected leaders. While all interventions yield shifts to more efficient equilibria, communication from leaders has a greater effect than incentives. Moreover, leaders who are elected by followers are significantly better at improving their group's outcome than randomly selected ones. The improved effectiveness of elected leaders results from sending more performance-relevant messages. Our results are evidence that the way in which leaders are selected affects their legitimacy and the degree to which they influence followers. Finally, we observed that a combination of factors - incentive increases and elected leaders - yield near universal turnarounds to full efficiency.

Published as: Legitimacy, Communication, and Leadership in the Turnaround Game in Management Science , Vol. 61, No. 11, 2627-2645, November, 2015