An investigation of corporate leadership succession planning and implementation : the Malaysian experience : a thesis submitted to the University in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Management, Massey University
Leadership succession, and especially that of the CEO, has attracted considerable interest amongst management and social researchers. Most of the research has been conducted in Western organisations and from specific vantage points such as understanding the financial impact of CEO succession and successor origins. However, there is currently little research on the actual process of leadership succession, and especially so in the Malaysian context.
This research uses qualitative research methods to investigate leadership succession (which in this thesis means both CEO and upper-echelon managerial succession) in Malaysian organisations. The research reveals that most Malaysian companies are not engaged in leadership succession planning and implementation and the few that have such processes report low success rates. The research shows that leadership succession planning and implementation is in its infancy among Malaysian companies. Where upper-echelon manager succession is concerned, companies commonly practise leadership replacement rather than succession. However, with family-controlled publicly listed companies – and such companies constitute the majority of publicly listed companies in Malaysia and in most of Asia – dynastic succession is the predominant form of CEO succession and the CEO’s position is the preserve of members of the founding family.
In investigating the factors that either enhance or inhibit leadership succession processes, a form of inhibitor that this thesis calls organisationally generated entrenchment was identified.
Organisationally generated entrenchment appears to be common in Malaysian companies and has the effect of stifling smooth leadership succession.
This research also shows that leadership succession processes are greatly influenced by cultural factors and that leadership succession models must take into account cultural effects.
This thesis offers the Succession Development Pathway model as a means of facilitating leadership succession in organisations in Malaysia.