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Taking charge

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Taking charge an assessment of actions taken by new city managers to effectively manage municipal organizations
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Griesemer, James R
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x, 148 leaves : forms ; 28 cm

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City managers ( lcsh )
City managers ( fast )
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theses ( marcgt )
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Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 108-112).
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Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Doctor of Public Administration, Graduate School of Public Affairs.
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School of Public Affairs
Statement of Responsibility:
by James R. Griesemer.

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|University of Colorado Denver
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Full Text
TAKING CHARGE: AN ASSESSMENT OF ACTIONS
TAKEN BY NEW CITY MANAGERS TO EFFECTIVELY
MANAGE MUNICIPAL ORGANIZATIONS
by
James R. Griesemer
B.A., Northern Illinois University, 1966
M.A., Northern Illinois University, 1971
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of Public Affairs
of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Public Administration
Graduate School of Public Affairs
1988


This thesis for the Doctor of Public Administration
degree by
James R. Griesemer
has been approved for the
Graduate School
of Public Affairs
by
Date /£?


Copyright by James R. Griesemer 1988
All Rights Reserved


Griesemer, James R. (D.P.A., Public Administration)
Taking Charge: An Assessment of Actions Taken by
New City Managers to Effectively Manage
Municipal Organizations
Thesis directed by Professor Mark A. Emmert
The subject of executive succession is an impor-
tant one in terms of both organizational theory and the
practice of management. From the perspective of organ-
izational theory, it relates directly to the phenomenon
of one individual's influence in the organization and,
in a larger sense, to the matter of the effectiveness of
the organizational as a whole. At the level of practice
we recognize the critical role which chief executives
can play in changing the direction of organizations.
In spite of its theoretical and practical impor-
tance, the matter of taking over has been the subject of
relatively little attention. Of the few studies which
do exist on the subject all focus exclusively upon
private sector CEO's. There is no serious research
which addresses the actions taken by new public sector
chief executives.
The purpose of this study is to examine actions
taken by city managers during their first two years in
the position to determine what type of actions, if any,
city managers take in order to establish their ability


V
to manage effectively. Given the organizational prom-
inence and high visibility of city managers, they repre-
sent an excellent opportunity to study the establishing
behavior of public sector chief executives.
The study was accomplished through the use of a
survey instrument which focused on actions taken by the
new city manager during the first two years on the job.
In addition, the survey gathered information about the
manager's background and included several questions
designed to measure the manager's success in the
position.
This data provided the basis upon which to test the
working hypotheses of the study and to derive a number
of conclusions related to the subject of city managers
taking over. Information was developed concerning the
actions which new city managers take, the way in which
they take those actions, and the relationship between
establishing behavior and success. The data also sug-
gested the interaction of behavioral and situational
variables and differences between what is known about
the behavior of new private sector executives and the
behavior of public sector executives.
Signed
Faculty Aiember in charge of thesis


CONTENTS
CHAPTER I
EXECUTIVE SUCCESSION AND TAKING CHARGE:
AN INTRODUCTION .......................... 1
Purpose of this Study..................... 4
Conceptual Limits of the Study............ 7
Summary................................... 9
CHAPTER II
SUCCESSION, POWER AND TAKING CHARGE:
A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE............... 11
Introduction The Literature
and Taking Charge...................... 11
The Literature on Executive
Succession............................. 13
Approaches to the Study of
Executive Succession................. 14
Key Findings from Succession
Literature........................... 16
The Literature of Taking Charge.......... 20
The Gabarro Study...................... 23
Leadership and Power..................... 30
The General Literature on Management.. 35
Organizational Role.................... 35
Trust and Credibility.................. 36
Developing Networks.................... 38
Shared Goals........................... 39


Vll
The Literature on City Management...... 41
An Analysis of the Literature............ 44
Critique of the Literature............... 46
Contributing to the Literature........... 48
CHAPTER III
METHODOLOGY OF THE STUDY................... 50
Science and Social Research.............. 50
Deductive and Inductive Approaches
to Research............................ 53
The Methodology of the Study............. 56
Working Hypotheses of the Study.......... 56
Technical Limitations and
Delimitations of the Study............. 58
The Quantitative Research................ 60
CHAPTER IV
CITY MANAGERS AND TAKING CHARGE:
RESEARCH FINDINGS........'............. 63
Review of Purposes of the Study.......... 63
Survey Responses......................... 64
Characteristics of Responding
City Managers.......................... 65
Hypothesis I Establishing Behavior.. 68
Hypothesis II The Primacy
of Information......................... 75
Hypothesis III Establishing Actions
and the New Manager's Background.... 80


Vlll
Hypothesis IV Establishing Actions
and the City Manager's Success......... 83
Other Findings........................... 89
CHAPTER V
CITY MANAGERS AND TAKING CHARGE:
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS............. 95
Introduction............................. 95
The Existence of Establishing
Behavior............................... 97
The Primacy of Information............... 99
The City Manager's Background........... 101
Establishing Actions and Success........ 102
Implications of Conclusions............. 104
Summary................................. 106
BIBLIOGRAPHY.................................... 108
APPENDIX
A. DEFINITION OF TERMS USED
IN THE STUDY.......................... 114
B. SURVEY INSTRUMENT..................... 118
C. FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION OF
SURVEY RESPONSES...................... 128


TABLES
Table
1. Age Distribution of Respondents...............65
2. Sex of Respondents............................65
3. Race of Respondents...........................66
4. Educational Level of Respondents.............6 6
5. Educational Background of Respondents.........67
6= Total Years of City Management Experience.... 67
7. Number of City Management Positions Held......67
8. Manager Recruited from Inside or Outside
of the Organization...........................68
9. Manager Still in Surveyed Position or
Moved From Position at Time of Survey.........68
10. Mid-points for all Aggregate
Establishing Action Variables.................74
11. Frequency Distribution on the Use
of Information as. a Basis for Other
Establishing Actions..........................79
12. Frequency Distribution on the Importance
of Information as a Basis For Establishing
Actions.......................................80
13. Correlation Between Manager's Perceived
Overall Importance of Establishing Actions
and Various Characteristics...................82
14. Comparison of Average Success Scores of
Managers Still with the Surveyed City
to Those Who Had Left the Surveyed City.......86
15. Summary of Significant Positive
Correlations Between Success Variables
and Establishing Behavior Variables
88


X
15. Summary of Significant Positive
Correlations Between Success Variables
and Aggregate Establishing Behavior
Variable -- For City Managers Still
in Surveyed Position..........................89
17. Summary of Significant Positive
Correlations Between Success Variables
and Situational Variables.....................90


CHAPTER I
EXECUTIVE SUCCESSION AND TAKING CHARGE: AN INTRODUCTION
Executive succession, the changing of the guard
in private and public organizations, is an interesting
and important subject. It conjures up notions of a new
President taking office, of military commanders and
captains of industry. For the old leader it is the
ending of an epoch, the close of a chapter. For the
successor it is the beginning of a new period of leader-
ship, complete with the challenge of gaining control of
the organization and motivating employees to achieve
important objectives.
For everyone whose life is affected by the
actions of organizations, issues of leadership succes-
sion and the way in which new leaders succeed or fail in
their attempts to manage and direct organizations are
matters of significance. In the private sector the
success or failure of executive leaders to take charge
of the organization can have important effects upon the
business, its economic resources and the jobs and lives
of company workers. In the public sector the ability of
administrative officials to effectively manage govern-
mental and other public organizations has even broader
implications. Here, the ability of executives to


2
successfully take charge and direct the operations of
public organizations can affect the economic success of
many businesses and the quality of life for thousands of
citizens.
Beyond its obvious practical significance, the
question of how new executive leaders take charge of
organizations is a matter of importance to students of
both private and public management. From a theoretical
viewpoint, the issue bears directly upon the supposition
that changing leadership can have a significant effect
upon organizational results and addresses the issue of
the influence which one person can have upon the
organization. From a causal perspective, it raises the
question of whether there is a relationship between the
way in which one takes charge of the organization and
the degree of success in achieving desired results.
For all of its importance, however, we still
know relatively little about the process of taking over
executive leadership of an organization. In fact, the
whole matter of executive succession has only recently
become a specific subfield of scholarly research. In
1952, for example, Alvin Gouldner observed that the
subject of leadership succession had been virtually
ignored as a field of study (Gouldner 1952, 340). As
recently as 1962, Richard Carlson, an authority in the
area, noted that few scholars had even given serious


3
thought to the subject (Carlson 1962, 3).
Building on the early work of Gouldner (1952),
Grusky (1960, 1964, 1969) Carlson (1962) and others,
serious studies of succession began to emerge in the
late sixties and early seventies. Since that time,
interest in the subject of executive succession has
increased, resulting in the publication of several
hundred articles and books on the subject (Brady and
Helmich 1984, 3).
In spite of expanding scholarly interest in the
subject of executive succession, there is still much
which we do not know. While there has been considerable
research on the dynamics of chief executive officer
(CEO) succession (Vancil 1987) and the grooming of new
CEO's (Tashakori 1980), only a few studies have dealt
with the actual actions taken by new chief executives
once they assume office.
Of the few studies which have addressed issues
related to the behavior of new CEO's, virtually all have
focused on chief executives in the private sector
(Gouldner 1954; Guest 1962; Kotter 1982, 1985; Gabarro
1985, 1987; Whitney 1987). There has been little re-
search related to actions taken by new public sector
executives to establish their ability to manage effec-
tively, and no research at all concerning the actions of
new city managers, the object of this study.


4
With respect to public sector executives, city
managers represent an excellent opportunity for study.
They are high-visibility public sector chief executives
who hold important positions with legal responsibility
for managing the municipal organization. Along with
clear responsibility, city managers generally share
similar, and significant, degrees of legal authority for
personnel, budgetary and other key management decisions.
The similarity of general responsibilities among city
managers makes them an excellent group for study and
facilitates meaningful comparisons within the the group.
As indicated earlier, little is known about
the behavior of new private sector CEO's and even less
information is available about the actions of new public
sector executives such as city managers. It is not
known, for example, if there are common actions which
most new city managers take upon assuming office or
whether such actions follow any particular pattern. Nor
is there information on how such actions may be related
to the the city manager's background or whether they are
in any way related to the city manager's success in the
position.
Purpose of this Study
The general objectives of this study are to
examine actions taken by city managers during their
first two years in the position to determine what type


5
of actions, if any, they take in order to establish
themselves as effective managers. The specific questions
to be answered by this study are as follows:
1. Are there common actions which city
managers take during their first two years
on the job in order to establish their
ability to manage effectively?
2. If so, do these actions form patterns and
are these patterns interrelated?
3. Are these establishing actions affected by
the personal or professional characteris-
tics of the city manager?
4. Is there a relationship between the actions
taken and individual's success as measured
by tenure and other success indicators?
In order to answer these questions a number of
working hypotheses have been developed. These hypo-
theses, which are summarized below, are presented in
detail in Chapter 3 of this study. Briefly, the
hypotheses to be tested by the research are as follows:
I. During the first two years on the job, city
managers engage in certain specific actions
designed to establish their ability to manage
effectively. These actions, which are called
"establishing actions" herein include:


6
gathering information, creating networks,
building credibility, and developing shared
goals with council and staff.
II. The first action taken by new city managers
is information gathering which forms the
basis for other establishing actions.
Other establishing actions tend to proceed
concurrently following completion of the initial
information gathering phase.
III. The importance which new city managers attach
to establishing behaviors is positively re-
lated to size of the city organization in
which they serve, rather then their age,
education, or experience, per se.
IV. There is a positive correlation between the
degree of importance which managers assign to
establishing actions and the success of the
manager.
From the perspective of public management, the
objective is to contribute to the literature in two
ways: (1) as one of the relatively few studies of public
manager succession generally; and (2) as the first study
to examine actions new public managers take in order to
establish themselves as effective managers. On a


7
broader level, it is hoped that this study will con-
tribute to the general literature on executive succes-
sion and provide a basis for further research into the
subject of executive leadership in both the public and
private sectors.
Conceptual Limits of the Study
Conceptually, it is important to recognize the
precise aims of this study. Earlier in this chapter it
was indicated that, while there is a growing body of
literature on the subject of executive succession gen-
erally, there is a dearth of information related to the
actions which new managers take in order to help them
take charge of the organization.
Moreover, the vast majority of the information
which does exist on the subject relates strictly to the
private sector. Given the lack of information on the
subject of taking charge, and the natural tendency to
proceed on the basis of assumed rather than proven
information, it is especially important that this sub-
ject be approached in a careful, limited way.
For example, while the propositions set forth in
the hypotheses for this study seem logical enough and
are supported by a considerable body of theory, there is
not a single guantitative study which has come to the
author's attention which has tested these hypotheses.


8
In point of fact, we simply do not know if new city
managers take the establishing actions described in the
hypotheses.
Going further, it seems equally logical to as-
sume that the actual techniques and approach which new
city managers would use in taking the establishing ac-
tions referred to in the hypotheses would be influenced
by the specific organizational environment. While such
a conclusion seems perfectly reasonable, it is based
upon the assumption that there is a set of establishing
actions which new managers use to help them take charge
of the organization. As we have seen, based on the
available research, this is, as yet, an unproven
assumption.
Given this lack of previous research into the
process of taking charge, the purpose of this study is
limited to providing baseline information as to whether
or not there is a set of common actions which new city
managers use to help them take charge, the way in those
actions may be related to the manager's backgroound, and
the degree to which such establishing actions may be
related to the city manager's success. Although the
study also offers other observations based on the data,
such observations are beyond the formal objectives of
this study.


- 9
The term used in this study to describe any one
of these actions is "establishing action" and the term
used to describe the pattern of behavior encompassing
all such actions is "establishing behavior." As used
herein, we define establishing behavior as those actions
which a new chief executive takes immediately after
assuming office in order to establish his or her ability
to manage effectively.
Thus, establishing actions are not actions which
relate to the substance of the organizational operation.
Rather, they are grounding actions precursor actions
which establish the ability of the executive to act
effectively in substantive areas by giving him or her an
adequate information base, a network of supporters and
contacts, credibility, and a shared sense of mission
with co-workers. Establishing actions may be seen
therefore as precursor actions which make possible
effective substantive actions by the executive.
Summary
The subject of executive succession and the way
in which new executives establish their effectiveness in
organizations they way they "take charge" is an
important matter for management researchers and prac-
titioners alike. Although there is a growing body of
literature related to executive succession generally,


10
there have been few studies related to the actions which
new managers take during their first two years on the
job. What little research does exist on the subject of
taking charge is directed exclusively toward executives
in the private sector.
The purpose of this study is to advance the
knowledge base related to this subject in the area of
public management by using quantitative methods to study
the actions of one group of high-visibility public
executives, city managers, and develop base line data
therefrom.
From the perspective of public management the
goal is to contribute to the literature on public man-
agement by examining actions which new city managers
take after their appointment in order to establish their
ability to manage effectively. On a broader level, the
study attempts to contribute baseline information to the
general literature on executive succession and provide a
basis for further research into the subject in both the
public and private sectors.


CHAPTER II
SUCCESSION, POWER, AND TAKING CHARGE:
A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Introduction The Literature and Taking Charge
As a new subfield of study, the subject of
taking charge does not fit neatly into any existing,
clearly-defined category of management literature. Some
authors see the process of taking charge closely allied
with the broader area of management succession and its
related literature. This perspective is taken by John
Gabarro, author of the few books to actually focus on
the process of taking charge. For Gabarro, the process
"can be considered the culmination of a management suc-
cession" (1987, 159). Clearly, there is merit in this
view since much literature relevant to the subject is
built upon earlier studies of succession.
Others would argue, however, that taking charge
is more than simply the conclusion of the succession
process. They would suggest that taking charge is best
viewed as the initial phase of the the process of man-
agement. This is a view taken explicitly by Whitney
(1987, 11) who sees the process of taking charge as the
initial act of effective management.


12
Viewing the process of taking charge as the
initial act of management leads one to the general
literature on management. This broad area is the source
of a number of observations, some of which bear directly
on the subject matter of this study. Many of the obser-
vations in the general literature of management are
presented as discrete insights, focused primarily on
other issues, but tangentially related to the issue of
taking charge. The basis for these insights ranges from
empirical research to case study interviews to con-
clusions based upon individual experiences of the writer
(Iacocca 1984). Nevertheless, the general literature of
management offers a useful potpourri of ideas related to
the topic of taking charge.
One specific area of the management literature
which is of particular interest is, the work related to
organizational power. For a number of authors, power
is an essential ingredient of effective management.
Kotter, for example, sees power as a basic reguirement
for effective management (1985, 44) and Burns actually
defines bureaucratic leadership within the context of
power (1978, 373). Bennis and Nanus neatly sum up the
importance of power to effective management leadership:
POWER, the basic energy to initiate action trans-
lating intention into reality, the quality without
which leaders cannot lead (1985, 15).
A final area for consideration is the literature on


13
city management. Although quite limited when compared
to the general literature on management, the literature
of city management has obvious relevance for this study.
Based on the foregoing, it would seem that any
meaningful examination of the subject of taking charge
must involve a review of five categories of management
literature. It must encompass a review of the litera-
ture related to executive succession, it must include
studies of the process of taking charge itself, it must
survey the general literature of management, it must
look at the literature of organizational power, and it
must examine the literature related to city management.
In the sections which follow, each of these areas are
reviewed as a background for the hypotheses of this
study related to actions taken by new city managers as
they take charge of municipal organizations.
The Literature of Executive Succession
It has only been in recent years that a signif-
icant body of scholarly research on the subject of
executive succession has begun to emerge. Building on
the work of Gouldner (1950), Grusky (1960) and Carlson
(1962), a larger number of serious studies of leadership
succession began to emerge in the late nineteen sixties
and early seventies. Important among these later works
was an exploratory study of the subject sponsored by the


14
Columbia University Graduate School of Business
(Glickman 1968) and the first large scale study of the
subject prepared by Donald Helmich (1971).
Since that time, interest in the subject of
executive succession has increased, with numerous
studies related to the dynamics of executive succession
(Tashakori 1980), the grooming of new executives (Vancil
1987), the emotional components of the selection process
(Kets De Vries 1988) and related subjects. Specialized
studies such as these, coupled with broader compendiums
on the topic such as the work of Brady and Helmich
(1984) are the result of increased interest in the
subject of executive succession generally.
Approaches to the Study of Executive Succession
While the amount of research related to execu-
tive succession has increased significantly in recent
years, there currently exists no general approach or
common perspective which serves as a framework around
which to organize research in the field. At the present
time there are few specific theories and no general
model dealing with the subject. As Brady and Helmich
point out, "...we are still only approaching the thres-
hold of a unified model or theory of executive succes-
sion" (1984, 13). This lack of a general theory of
executive succession has resulted in various scholars
defining the structure of the field in differing ways.


15
For example, Grusky (1964) describes two general
areas of research interest. The first pertains to suc-
cession as related to organizational membership, without
regard for the location of the member's position on the
organizational chart. The second relates to succession
events at the top of the organizational pyramid. Hall
(1976) further sub-divides this second general area
(succession at the top) into two categories: (1) antece-
dents, processes, and consequences of the succession
event; (2) characteristics, traits, and origins of those
who have succeeded to the chief executive position.
Pfeffer and Salancik (1977) describe three clas-
sifications of executive succession literature: (1)
relationship between successor tenure and organizational
size; (2) the effect of organizational effectiveness on
the rate of executive succession; (3) the origin of the
successor, whether from inside or outside of the organ-
ization. Osborn (1981, 183) and his associates suggest
two themes: (1) succession-related events and processes
as they affect organizational effectiveness; (2) succes-
sion-related events and processes as they affect organ-
izational uncertainty. Finally, Brady and Helmich
(1984) suggest that any of these approaches can be
examined from four general frames of reference: (1) the
broad institutional level; (2) the specific organiza-


16
tional level; (3) the immediate work group; (4) the
individual successor.
Key Findings from Succession Literature
Although it is difficult to categorize the
structure of the field in accordance with any generally
accepted criteria, research into the subject has pro-
duced various findings about the process of executive
succession. While this succession research covers many
topics, findings in at least two areas inside v.
outside CEO's and strategies with executive staff
offer useful conclusions on the matter of taking charge.
One of the most popular areas of succession
research relates to the question of whether the chief
executive comes from inside or outside the organization.
Research in this area has proceeded for some time, often
using different names for the same phenomena. Gouldner,
for example, uses the term "cosmopolitan" and "local" to
describe insiders and outsiders while Carlson uses
"career-bound" and "place-bound" to describe the same
characteristics.
Research into the characteristics of CEO's has
been one of the most persistent themes in the research
on executive succession. As Brady and Helmich (1984,
24) point out, "insider" and "outsider" are relative
terms. In this respect, Simmel's analogy is most useful
in generating an operative definition (Wolf, 1959). In


17
Simmel's terms the inside CEO is one who is intimately
acquainted with the informal behavioral structure of the
executive staff. An outside CEO is a stranger who is
unacquainted with the social relations of the executive
position. Simmel's view is useful since it points out
fairly clearly that the insider and the outsider are
extreme and bipolar positions. In the real world, new
executives illustrate various degrees of "insiderness"
and "outsiderness".
Despite definitional subtleties, the findings of
research related to insider and outsider CEO's remain a
matter of.interest. In a study of over 1100 chief
executives, Brady found that CEO's selected from the
outside often experienced opposition within the organ-
ization and spend much of their time getting information
required in the new position (1982, 269).
Another area of succession research, and one of
particular importance for this study concerns the rela-
tionship between the CEO and his or her staff. Managing
the staff is one of the major concerns for a new chief
executive. This is true in any situation, but especial-
ly true in the case of the CEO who must come into a new
organization (Whitney 1987, 15). The way in which the
CEO deals with the dominant coalition, the power group
of the organization (March and Simon, 1958), can have a
great deal to do with the success of the new executive


18
(Gouldner 1954; Brady and Helmich 1984, 40).
Generally the members of the dominant coalition
of the organization are the chief officers, the CEO's
staff. One way or another, either by dealing with the
staff at large or an "inner circle" of the staff
(Thompson, 1967), the CEO must manage loyalties and
power relationships with and between subordinates. Says
Thompson:
When power is widely distributed, an inner
circle emerges to conduct coalition business.
In the organization with dispersed power, the
central power figure is the individual who can
manage the coalition. It seems clear that [the
leader] can only [manage] with the consent and
approval of the dominant coalition (142).
When a new executive comes on board, then, it is
especially important that he or she obtain loyalities of
key staff members in sufficient strength to overcome the
organizational inertia which will resist change. This
is particularly true if the CEO comes from the outside
and is perceived to have a mandate for change. In such
a case the new CEO may have inertia, not to mention
hostility, to overcome (Brady and Helmich 1984, 47).
This situation, according to Gursky (1960, 105),
is compounded in a highly bureaucratized setting. It is
made even more difficult if the dominant coalition has
had a powerful role in organizational decisions. These
elements are characteristic of CEO selection in the
public sector and suggest the need for public sector


19
CEO's to actively manage loyalties among staff members.
The need to manage loyalties among subordinates suggests
that a major concern of the new CEO will relate to
matter of power, credibility, and developing shared
goals.
Empirical research related to succession has
also focused on the time period involved in establishing
oneself in a new position. Although the situation may
vary somewhat based on the origin of the successor,
mandates for change, and personality factors, it has
been demonstrated that within two years of executive
succession, sentiments toward the CEO, whether positive
or negative, will generally solidify (Kotin and Sharaf
1967, 237). Similar results have been found in other
research which has indicated that successful performance
on the job is related to experiences in role socializa-
tion during the first year or two on the job (Berlew and
Hall 1966; Schein 1965; Denhardt 1970; Vroom and Deci
1971). These studies offer some of the best evidence
available that the actions which new executives take
during the early years of their tenure can be critically
important to their success.


20
The Literature on Taking Charge
"Taking charge" can be thought of as the process
by which the new manager acquires a grounded understand-
ing of the organization and develops the ability to
impact the structure, practices and performance of the
organization. As used within the specific context of
this study, "taking charge" means those actions which
the new city manager uses in order to establish his or
her ability to manage effectively. We call these
actions which the new executive uses to take charge,
"establishing actions".
In contrast to the extensive work which has been
done on the conditions leading to successions, very
little research has been done on the actions taken by
new managers immediately after their appointment. Among
early studies, only the work of Gouldner (1954) and
Guest (1962) provided anything resembling a careful
description of the actions taken by new managers. Both
of these efforts were essentially detailed, single case
studies and both are considered classic field studies.
Gouldner provides an in-depth review of the
"General Gypsum Company" located in a middle-sized
community near the Great Lakes. The purpose of his
study is to "identify some of the variables relating to
bureaucratization, hypothetically accounting for its
growth or contraction" (1954, 17). In the course of


21
studying the company, Gouldner examined the organiza-
tional and procedural patterns established by the new
manager. In doing so, Gouldner looked at changes in
leadership patterns and their consequences on plant
morale and productivity. He describes in some detail
the bureaucratic and impersonal style of the new plant
manager and assesses the impact of this approach upon
the morale and functioning of the plant. Of particular
importance are Gouldner's insights into the way in which
existing personnel can sabotage the new manager.
In the course of this section of his study,
Gouldner identifies the need to replace or win over the
"old lieutenants" and to overcome what he calls the
"Rebecca Myth" (1954, 79) which lionizes the former
boss, irrespective of how irascible the old scoundrel
may have been in real life. In examining the hurdles
which the new manager must overcome if he is to be
effective, Gouldner identified, in effect, the concept
of the "dominant coalition" which was officially dis-
covered by Thompson almost 15 years later.
Writing almost a decade after Gouldner, Robert
H. Guest presented the second detailed case study which
examined, as a part of a larger study, the actions taken
by a new plant manager. In this case, Guest was study-
ing "Plant Y", one of 126 plants owned by the giant
industrial "Corporation X" (1962, 9). The purpose of


22
Guest's naturalistic study was to look at conditions
which allowed change to take place in organizations.
In the process of doing so, Guest looked at the
effects which a new manager had upon the operation of
the plant. Guest's manager, unlike Gouldner's, estab-
lished informal ties with subordinates, elicited
worker's views, and generally behaved in a non-bureau-
cratic manner. Guest noted that this more informal,
participatory style seemed to facilitate change.
As he observed the new manager of Plant Y, Guest
made a number of important observations. Foremost among
these were the fact that the new manager placed much
emphasis upon developing "a few basic goals" (1962, 42)
as a key technique for establishing his leadership. In
addition, Guest suggests that the effective new manager
spent considerable time gathering information about the
organization and the individuals who populated it.
Guest also recognized the importance of power and
suggested that the source of the new manager's power
came from both above (in the form of authority) and from
below (in the form of acceptance). "Juggling" these
power relationships was part of the dual role which the
effective manager needed to play (1962, 124).
Although the Gouldner and Guest case studies
were, and remain, among the most insightful available,
it has only been recently that scholars have begun to


23
examine the subject of taking over from a more general
perspective as opposed to a single case study technigue.
One of the most useful of these more recent efforts is
the work of Gordon and Rosen (1981) who review a number
of studies relevant to the subject of taking charge,
including the Gouldner and Guest case studies, and
attempt to draw more generalized conclusions.
Most interesting in Gordon and Rosen's book are
the postarrival actions which they theorize are impor-
tant to the success of the new manager. These include
gathering information, handling discrepancies between
the manager's goals and those of others, and establish-
ing a power base. These concepts were used, in part, by
Gabarro in developing the theoretical basis for his
recent, pathbreaking research on taking charge.
The Gabarro Study
The most recent, and by far the most comprehen-
sive, study devoted specifically to the process of
taking charge is John J. Gabarro's recent three-year
study of seventeen new executives. The results of
Gabarro's study were originally summarized in an article
in the December, 1985 issue of Harvard Business Review
entitled "When a New Manager Takes Charge". A more
complete exposition of the findings are contained in his
book The Dynamics of Taking Charge (1987). Because of


24
the importance of Gabarro's work to the subject matter
of this paper, his findings are discussed in some detail
below.
In his book, Gabarro begins by acknowledging the
general lack of previous research related to the subject
of taking charge (1987, vii). He then goes on to report
the results of a three year study of three sets of
managers in companies with sales ranging from 1.2 mil-
lion to 3 billion dollars. Four of the executives were
studied for a three year period with interviews every
three months in order to provide detailed and intensive
longitudinal data. Ten other executive "taking charge"
experiences were based on historical information. Three
other executives were included in supplementary studies
with time periods less than three years (Ibid, 4-6).
The studies were selected to provide a mixture
of situations for examination. Of the executives whose
case studies continued across the full three years,
seven came from outside the organization, while seven
were from inside the organization. Of these fourteen
case studies, seven involved turnaround efforts while
seven involved more conventional, less hectic efforts.
On the basis of this study Gabarro concluded
that the process of taking charge requires quite a bit
of time to complete, typically somewhere between 20 and
30 months, with most activity occurring within the first


25
two years. Gabarro also concluded that the process of
taking charge involves a series of distinct stages.
While the time periods of these stages vary, most of the
managers studied engaged in each stage.
Gabarro identifies five stages in the process of
taking charge including "Taking Hold", "Immersion",
Reshaping", "Consolidation", and "Refinement". These
stages represent one key point in Gabarro's findings:
that the taking over process occurs in stages which
alternate between learning and action stages and that
each stage lasts about six months (1987, 24).
The first stage, taking hold, is a period which
lasts from three to six months. It is a time of intense
action and learning which often sets the tone if not the
direction for the rest of the taking-charge process.
The second stage, immersion, lasts from 4 to 11 months
and is a period of relative quiet where the executive
immerses himself in gathering information and acquires a
greater understanding of the new situation.
The third stage, reshaping, usually comes
between 12 and 18 months. It is a period of great
activity, in which major organizational and personnel
changes are made. With the fourth stage, consolidation,
comes the final wave of action. During this stage,
personnel and structural changes are made which are
generally designed to finish and consolidate changes


26
which were made earlier. The final phase, refinement,
generally occurs at between two and three years. At
this point, according to Gabarro, the manager either has
or has not established credibility and a power base.
After about two years managers are no longer considered
new, nor do they feel or speak as if they are new.
While Gabarro's stage theory ranks as the first
attempt to provide an overall theoretical framework for
the process of taking charge, it is subject to challenge
on several fronts. Although Gabarro makes clear that
the length of each stage is only approximately six
months long, and can vary, his stage theory implies that
the taking over is a relatively predictable and ordered
process. Such a notion is at variance with the conclu-
sions of a number of other management writers.
In a study of college presidents, for example,
Cohen and March (1974) found that the role of the CEO in
a university setting was largely ambiguous, symbolic
and, frequently, only semi-rational at best. In their
study of organizations, Deal and Kennedy (1982), Peters
and Waterman (1982), Kanter (1983) and Bennis and Nanus
(1985) all describe top management roles which are far
more ambiguous, situational and culturally determined
than Gabarro's stages might imply.
Experienced executives writing of their exper-
iences often describe the taking charge as a hectic,


27
confusing, "get everything done at once" kind of pro-
cess. A particularly vivid description of the process
is offered by Whitney (1987) who suggests:
During the first few months, his style will
seem contradictory. He will energize, but
will restrain. He will delegate, but he will
not abdicate. He will seek information from
everywhere but keep his own counsel. He will
lead... He will ignore formal reports, and he
will cross organizational lines to get direct-
ly at the problem's source (3).
Whitney's graphic description echoes the comments of
other executives writing of their own experiences taking
charge of new organizations (Iacocca, 1984).
Although elements of Gabarro's stage theory may
be a variance with the observations of other authors,
his study' has produced findings which are of great
importance and which significantly aid in understanding
how the process of taking over works. Most important
among these findings are Gabarro's description of what
he calls the organizational and interpersonal "work" of
taking charge.
In referring to the organizational work of
taking charge, Gabarro means the actions which new
managers take to assess, develop, and improve the
organization (1987, 70). The interpersonal work of
taking charge relates to the process of developing
effective working relationships with key people in and
out of the organization (Ibid, 98). As he examines


28
these tasks, Gabarro identifies a number of actions
which new managers take during their first two years on
the job.
Among the organizational work of taking charge
Gabarro includes: learning, assessing and diagnosis;
working out shared expectations; and changing the organ-
ization to improve performance. The interpersonal tasks
of taking charge involves the development of effective
working relationships with key people. The pivotal
elements here include: working out mutual expectations
with superiors and subordinates about performance, goals
priorities and roles; developing mutual trust with
superiors and subordinates; and developing influence,
that is the degree to which the new manager and his or
her subordinates are able to exert influence over each
other.
In discussing learning, assessment and diagnosis
Gabarro points out that the information gathering and
learning phase is of particular importance. It not only
provides specific information about the organization and
its environment, it also provides an opportunity for
experienced managers to identify patterns and to spot
obvious organizational problems (Ibid, 73). Gabarro
notes that learning, assessment and diagnosis processes
occur simultaneously. He also notes that during this
learning period the new manager and his superiors and


29
subordinates also begin to express their expectations of
one another.
A second key organizational task of taking over
involves the development of a set of shared expectations
about goals and priorities with key subordinates and
superiors. In practice, Gabarro observes, new managers
begin doing this almost from their first day on the job
(Ibid, 81). This process takes time. General expecta-
tions usually become more concrete and operational as a
result of a number of specific interactions with both
superiors and subordinates. Gabarro notes that the
development of shared goals with superiors was critical
to the success of new managers. The development of
shared goals with subordinates helped in building a
cohesive management team.
In terms of the interpersonal work of taking
charge, Gabarro points to the importance of this area by
stating flatly that "...the quality of a manager's
working relationships are especially critical at the
general management... level" (Ibid, 99). To Gabarro,
development of successful working relationships is a
function of establishing mutual expectations (discussed
above), developing trust, and developing influence.
Developing trust, like shared goals, takes time. It is
the result of an accumulation of interactions, specific
incidents, problems and events. Sources of trust for


30
managers include perceived integrity, technical compe-
tence, business sense and interpersonal competence.
Although Gabarro treats the subject of power
only briefly he does note that influence is also impor-
tant to the new manager. He sees influence, as with
mutual expectations and trust, as developing over time
based on the cumulative assessment of specific actions
and interactions. Gabarro notes that while the new
manager usually has considerable positional power
(authority), subordinates also have considerable power.
Leadership and Power
Although Gabarro gives the subject of managerial
power somewhat brief notice in his excellent treatise on
taking over, a number of other management authors have
given the subject much more attention. This has often
been done within the context of leadership studies gen-
erally, although power is increasingly being examined
within the framework of organizational management.
The concept of power as a prereguisite for
effective managerial action is a topic which has been
addressed by numerous authors. One of the earliest
writers to deal with the subject of power within an
organizational context was Niccolo Machiavelli who
offered classic advice on political management from the
perspective of early 16th century Italian power


politics. Among other observations, Machiavelli notes
the importance of power, as an essential ingredient for
31
taking control of new organizations (1950, 82). In a
more modern vein, authors such as Bennis and Nanus have
considered power as the critical ingredient for effec-
tive management.
For Bennis and Nanus, power is defined as the
capacity to mobilize people and resources to get things
done. It is the ability to make decisions "stick". It
is the ability to initiate and sustain action which
translates intention into reality. They describe power
as the central feature of managerial leadership, the
quality "without which leaders cannot lead" (1985, 15).
To Kanter and Stein, the issues facing a chief
executive are largely centered around matters of power.
At the apex of the organization, particularly, issues of
power predominate. Thus "the succession question may
not be so much a matter of insuring continued efficient
operation of the organization as it is of assuring the
transfer of power in directions the current power-
holders desire" (1979, 15).
Writers such as Russell, Dahl, Etzioni, Hersey
and Blanchard, and others have examined the subject of
power and identified various types of power. These
writers concieve of power as stemming from multiple
bases, being related to the organization, being limited


32
and, above all, being essential for influencing others
to translate plans into action.
To these authors, and many others, power is seen
as a key ingredient of effective management. Mintzberg
notes: "All members of the organization typically seek
power, if not to control others at least to control the
'tf
decisions that affect their own work" (1979, 291).
With respect to public organizations it has been noted
that the political constraints on a decision maker will
vary inversely with the power of the decision maker
(Bolman and Deal 1987, 117).
There are, however, limits to power as writers
such as Barnard, Simon and others have pointed out.
This issue was explored by George Simmel who noted that
power always involves a relationship and that there are
always limitations upon the use of power (Wolff, 1950).
Extending Simmel's notions into the world of organiza-
tional relationships, Kanter and Stein (1979) also note
inherent limitations of power upon executives and the
constant struggle to obtain and maintain sufficient
power to act.
Given the essential nature of power and its
inherent limitations, a number of writers have suggested
that the life of a chief executive can be depicted as a
continuing struggle to gain and hold enough power to


33
manage the organization effectively. Quoting Kanter
again:
Leaders at the top are invested with authority
but they need to use influence in order to
accomplish what needs to be done ... [thus]
... much of life at the top consists of overt
and covert issues of power (6).
What are the sources of the power available to
the new executive in order to manage effectively? While
many power base classification systems have been devel-
oped over the years, the framework devised by French and
Raven appears to be the most widely accepted. They
propose that there are five different bases of power.
These include: coercive power based on fear; expert
power based on knowledge and expertise; referent power
based on personal traits of the leader; legitimate power
based on position; and reward power based on the ability
to reward the follower (1959, 150-167).
Another interesting and important perspective on
the issue of sources of power is offered by Hershey and
Blanchard (1982) who look at the question from the point
of organizational hierarchy. They suggest that the
basic source of organizational power comes not from the
office itself but, rather, from those above:
It is not a matter of the office having power,
but rather the extent to which those people to
whom managers report are willing to delegate
authority and responsibility down to them. So
position power tends to flow down in an
organization (107).


34
Based upon the ideas of Hershey and Blanchard we
would expect that most of the CEO's effort at building
support would be directed upward toward the board.
Nevertheless, as has been discussed, effective action
also requires managing the loyalties of subordinates.
Given these notions we would expect to see new execu-
tives seeking to enhance their power with those above
them, and managing the loyalties of those below.
The issue of power within the context of organ-,
izational management is well summed by Kotter (1985).
In the course of making a compelling argument that
effective management today requires a sophisticated
understanding of issues of power and influence, Kotter
describes the power relationships between the manager,
his superiors and his subordinates.
To be an effective organizational leader, Kotter
asserts, "One also needs appropriate assets...power and
influence..." (1985, 117). Among other things, this
means accumulating large amounts of relevant informa-
tion, developing large numbers of cooperative relation-
ships, and establishing a strong track record. Accord-
ing to Kotter, "People who are successful in these areas
then have the capacity to emerge as effective and
responsible leaders in organizations" (Ibid, 118).


35
The General Literature on Management
As noted earlier, the general literature on
management provides a number of observations which bear
on the subject of taking charge. These insights relate
to the issues of organizational role, trust and cred-
ibility, developing networks and the importance of
vision in effective leadership.
Organizational Role
In its totality, the subject of organizational
roles covers a broad area of research dealing with a
wide variety of role issues (Katz and Kahn 1978, 186-
221). For the more focused purposes of this study,
however, the most useful aspect relates to the notion of
role making and role socialization. This is the process
by which an individual going into an organization estab-
lishes convergence between his or her role expectation
and the organization's expectations for the individual
in the position (Goffman 1961).
Empirical research on socialization into work
roles highlights the importance of early socialization
experiences for success in the position. Especially
relevant here is the fact that research has indicated
that successful performance on the job is related to
experiences in role socialization during the first year
or two on the job (Berlew and Hall 1966; Schein 1965;


36
Denhardt 1970; Vroom and Deci 1971). These studies
offer strong evidence that the actions which executives
take during the early years of their tenure can be
critically important to their success.
Role socialization is also an important part of
the process of establishing one's credibility in an
organization. One key method for gaining credibility is
through role-making, by meeting and establishing expec-
tations for the position. This notion is well described
by Ranter and Stein who observe:
If those at the top come in as outsiders, they may
first have to put themselves in the paradoxical and
somewhat anomalous position of honoring and obeying
the system's existing culture before exercising any
of their own authority with success. The need to
give homage to the system's existing culture before
attempting to change is particularly true for those
...who... gain access to top positions [from outside
the organization]" (1979, 16).
Trust and Credibility
The literature on executive leadership clearly
suggests that power is essential to effective manage-
ment. It has also been suggested that one way to build
organizational power is through actions which establish
trust and credibility. While one might argue that trust
and credibility are not literally the same thing, they
are related closely enough that the Random House
Dictionary (1980) offers "trustworthy" as a definition
of "credible." For present purposes, therefore, the


37
terms credibility and trust shall be treated as essen-
tially synonymous.
In this same sense, Kanter and Stein (1979)
address the significance of trustworthiness in organiza-
tional life. Concerning decisions at the level of the
CEO they offer the following:
At the top decisions about people are not so easy
or mechanical; they rest on personal factors to a
degree perhaps much greater than systems themselves
officially admit. The situations that a [chief
executive] faces are not predictable... So there is
no test except a vague one "Is this person trust-
worthy (32) .
We expect a direct correlation, then, between the
degree of uncertainty in a position [ie. at the
top] and a reliance on trust (29).
The notion that credibility is the basic ingre-
dient of all organizations and organizational relation-
ships has been supported by Bennis and Nanus (1985),
Peters and Waterman (1982) and others. To these
authors, credibility is the glue which holds organiza-
tions together. Thus, it is a an essential ingredient
for those who would serve as the chief executive of an
organization.
How does one establish credibility in the organiza-
tion? For Kanter it is a matter of developing and using
organizational power tools which consist of three "basic
commodities" that can be invested in action: informa-
tion, resources, and support (1983, 159). If Kanter is
correct, we would expect to see new executives try to


38
establish credibility by gaining information, resources,
and developing a network of support.
Developing Networks
The general literature on management lends cre-
dence to the fact that new executives do indeed attempt
to establish networks of support to help them accomplish
their objectives. Rotter's 1982 study of general mana-
gers provides vivid evidence of this fact. In his
analysis of the activities of general managers, Rotter
found that:
In addition to agenda setting, the [managers] all
allocated significant time and effort early in
their jobs to developing a network of cooperative
relationships to and among those people they felt
were actually needed to accomplish their emerging
agendas (1982, 67).
The notion that chief executives spend much time
and effort developing and operating on the basis of
interpersonal relationships has much supporting evidence
in the general management literature. For example,
Mintzberg in his now-classic 1973 study showed that
executives spent 78 percent of their working time inter-
acting with others (1973, 39-45). As mentioned previ-
ously, Gabarro found that the strength of a chief execu-
tive's network of working relationships is especially
critical to his or her success (1987, 99).
The networks which management researchers des-
cribe include many persons besides the subordinates of


39
the general manager. They include persons above and
below the executive as well as individuals outside the
organization. Kotter notes that these networks are
often very large, sometimes involving hundreds or even
thousands of persons (1982, 67). While the networks
were often very large and the members of the network
quite diverse, the common requirement for membership was
the ability of the individual in the network to somehow
help the general manager achieve objectives. Of par-
ticular interest in Kotter's study is the fact that the
structure and membership of the network was driven
largely by the executive's goals for the organization.
Shared Goals
The idea that successful management requires
goals which are shared between the executive and his or
her subordinates and superiors is by no means new. As
early as 1954, Drucker coined the term management-by-
objectives, or "MBO" to describe a process whereby mana-
gers and employees were directed by shared goals. As to
the importance of developing such shared goals Drucker
states, "...effective management must direct the vision
and efforts of all managers toward a common goal"
(1954, 126).
Other authors agree. Bennis and Nanus, in a
survey of ninety business and governmental leaders,


40
found that a common trait among all of the leaders was
the existence of a clear vision and agenda for action
(1985, 28). This led these authors to conclude that the
"management of attention through vision" was one of the
keys to successful managerial leadership. James
McGregor Burns concurs with this notion. He describes
the importance, and subtleties, of shared goals between
the executive leader and his peers, superiors and sub-
ordinates. He concludes with an observation which sug-
gests that the ability to create a shared goal or vision
for the organization may rest, in part, upon the power,
credibility and political resources of the leader (1978,
378). Here, with Burns rich descriptions of the process
of managerial leadership one sees the interrelated
nature of power, credibility and vision.
The importance of a shared vision to effective
management has been directly addressed by Peter Block
(1987). Block defines a managerial vision as "...the
preferred future, a desirable state... It is an
expression of optimism despite the bureaucratic
surrounding or the evidence to the contrary" (103).
Block distinguishes a vision from specific objectives,
noting that the vision is a broad and lofty statement of
a desired end state while objectives are specific state-
ments of actions to be taken over the next month, year
or whatever.


41
Block also makes several other key observations
about managerial visions. The first is that a manager's
vision statement becomes a benchmark for evaluating the
success of actions taken by the manager (105). It
becomes the basis on which superiors and subordinates
can, and usually will, judge the manager. It is worth
noting in this regard that, through the vision state-
ment, the manager has some degree of control as to the
basis on which he or she will be evaluated.
Finally, Block notes that achievement of the
vision is based upon two key factors. The first is
building credibility among superiors and subordinates.
The second requirement involves building a network of
support among the manager's "customers, bosses and sub-
ordinates..." (131). Block thus reaffirms the necessity
for a support network identified Kotter and discussed
earlier in this section.
The Literature on City Management
A final area for review is the literature on
city management. Although the volume of literature
available on the subject of city managers is small by
comparison to the general management literature, there
is, in fact, a rather extensive body of literature about
the city management profession. Unfortunately, very
little of the material available on city managers


42
relates to the subject of taking charge. The small
amount of information which does exist tends to be
either reflective of general management research or
simply prescriptive in its orientation.
The only material directly related to city mana-
gers taking charge is found in a pamphlet published in
the 1950's by the International City Management Associa-
tion (ICMA) entitled "Guideposts on Assuming a City
Manager Position." This pamphlet, based on a small
survey of managers, draws the following conclusions:
1. The first few months on the job are critical for
the new city manager.
2. The early period on a new job will be a busy
time.
3. Of the four actions taken by new city managers,
three related to gathering information (the
fourth involved answering letters).
Although this pamphlet describes the comments of "city
managers reporting" (1955, 2) no statistical information
of any type is presented. The tone of the document is
generally prescriptive, with "do's" and "don'ts" for new
city managers.
A more recent publication relating to actions
taken by new city managers appeared in the September,
1981 issue the magazine of the International City Man-
agement Association. This issue of the magazine, enti-


43
tied "New City Manager in Town" offered anecdotal obser-
vations of experienced managers, reflecting on the early
years of various new city manager assignments. No sta-
tistical or research data of any type is presented. All
of the observations are based solely on individual ex-
perience. Observations from this publication include the
following:
1. One of the new manager's key tasks is ferreting
out information (10).
2. An important early step is setting common goals
with the council as to things the manager is to
accomplish (10).
3. Identify a problem to demonstrate the manager's
ability to take charge and implement a solution
to build credibility (17).
4. Gain confidence of your staff (18).
Other information related to actions taken by
new city managers is similarly anecdotal or prescrip-
tive. In writing of his early years as the manager of
Sweet Home, Oregon, for example, Leroy Harlow offers
anecdotes which describe his early efforts to gain in-
formation about the community and the organization
(1977, 10). In addition, although he does not identify
goal setting activity explicitly, Harlow's description
of his experiences in several cities suggests the impor-
tance of developing shared goals with council and staff.


44
An Analysis of the Literature
As the foregoing sections suggest, the litera-
ture on succession, power, general management and city
management offers a number of insights which may be
related to the matter of taking charge. Research on the
broad topic of executive succession suggests that out-
siders may well experience opposition from key staff and
other members of the dominant coalition in the organiza-
tion. The dominant coalition has power which must be
matched, or at least controlled, by the new manager.
This process of establishing oneself, the literature on
succession would suggest, typically requires about two
years to complete.
The literature which relates directly to taking
charge, though limited, offers several very useful bases
for the hypotheses of this study. Key among these are
the research findings which suggest that new managers
engage in organizational and interpersonal activities
with both subordinates and superiors which include:
learning by gathering information, developing shared
goals, establishing trust and gaining influence. This
literature also points to the importance of previous
experience, clear goals and interpersonal skills as
critical success factors for new executives.
The literature on leadership and power offers a
number of other potentially useful insights into the


45
matter of taking charge. Here, we see observations that
effective management is at least partially dependent
upon the existence of a sufficient power base. Power is
reciprocal, limited, has multiple bases, and flows pri-
marily downward in organizations. Thus, a key function
of the chief executive is the building and maintenance
of power sufficient to accomplish his or her goals.
The general literature on management suggests
that there are a number of ways to build and use power
within the context of organizations. Among these, how-
ever, information and credibility emerge as among the
most important means of establishing one's power in an
executive position. Credibility is built through a
number of actions. Conforming with, as well as adjust-
ing, organizational role expectations is one way in
which credibility is developed. Demonstrating technical
expertise and the ability to get results may be an even
more important means of establishing credibility.
One important ingredient in achieving results is
the development of a support network composed of peers,
superiors, and subordinates as well as persons outside
of the organization. This network, which may be very
large, is composed of persons who can help the executive
achieve his or her agenda. The existence and articula-
tion of this agenda, or vision, by the executive is an
essential ingredient for developing support. It may


46
also be the basis on which the performance of the execu-
tive will ultimately be judged.
What emerges from the literature, then, is sup-
port for a thesis of interdependent, reciprocal bases
for executive effectiveness. To be effective, execu-
tives must have sufficient power to overcome internal
and external resistance to change. This can be partic-
ularly important in cases where the leader comes in from
outside the organization. Another key ingredient is
credibility which the executive must develop with both
superiors and subordinates, without which, the executive
cannot lead. On the foundation of this trust the execu-
tive can build the vital support network which is needed
to accomplish results.
These results conform to the vision for the
organization which the executive forms, usually over a
period of time and in conjunction with other power
holders. This vision or shared goal helps to define
success as well as enlist members into the executive's
support network. These supporters make possible the
achievement of desired results, thus further enhancing
the executive's credibility and power.
Critique of the Literature
Although the literature on executive succession,
taking charge, general management, power, and city man-


47
agement provides a basis on which to develop working
hypotheses related to city managers taking charge, there
are many opportunities for further research. Most ob-
vious is the need to provide basic research in the
field. The subject of taking charge is a topic on which
very little research of any type exists. The recent
Gabarro study and two earlier studies by Gouldner and
Guest are among the only pieces of basic research in
existence.
Although these studies differ in their degree of
focus on actions taken by new managers (only Gabarro
focuses exclusively on this aspect), they do share the
common trait of utilizing qualitative research method-
ology. As far as can be determined, there few serious
quantitative studies on the topic of taking charge.
In addition to the lack of quantitative research
on the subject, there is also the a lack of general
theory concerning actions which new manager's take
during their first two years in order to establish their
effectiveness. Gabarro's work is the only existing
attempt in this direction and this theory relates to the
stages of action more than the actions themselves.
Where Gabarro does address the specific actions of new
manager he does so within the framework of substantive
actions which they take, rather than within the context
of a theory of "establishing actions." This is not to


48
deny the importance of Gabarro's research, rather to
define the area of his theory building.
While the general literature of management
leaves much room for further inguiry into the subject of
taking charge, it does provide some information. Unfor-
tunately virtually all of the research which does exist
relates exclusively to actions taken by chief executives
in the private sector. There is virtually no quantita-
tive research in existence which addresses the actions
taken by new public sector chief executives in order to
establish their ability to manage effectively. With
respect to city managers, the object of this study,
there is no serious research of any type, only a few
anecdotal observations and prescriptive statements on
which to base any conclusions. This is a serious short-
coming since, as Bozeman points out, there is no reason
to assume that the behavior of private executives will
be mirrored by public sector executives (1987, 39).
Contributing to the Literature
The goal of this study is to contribute to the
literature by helping to resolve some of the outstanding
questions concerning the actions which new executives,
specifically new city managers, take within the first
two years in order to establish their ability to manage
effectively. This study builds upon the literature of


49
executive succession, leadership and power, and general
management and city management in order to develop
working hypotheses which are tested by the research. In
so doing the study fills a number of gaps which exist in
the literature and research of public management.
This study joins only a handful of others
dealing with the subject of actions which new executives
take as they take charge of new organizations. It is
perhaps the first quantitative study of the subject in
either the public or private sectors. It is clearly the
only such study related to actions which new city mana-
gers take as they assume office. Conceptually, this
study seeks to develop baseline information on the ac-
tions taken by new city managers. Hopefully, others
will be able to build upon this information as research
continues into the process of taking charge of new
organizations.


CHAPTER III
METHODOLOGY OF THE STUDY
Science and Social Research
Science is a term which is commonly used, yet
tends to mean different things to different people. For
some, science conjures up images of natural scientists
physicists or chemists surrounded by experimental
apparatus, deeply engrossed in an experiment. For
others the vision is that of the theoretician, the
mathematician surrounded by abstract formulas depicting
new theories of the universe. And for still others
science is Jane Goodall sitting patiently in the jungle
observing primates or Marvin Harris exploring some
anthropological mystery.
In a sense, science is all of these. Yet, in
reality, science is not a "thing". Rather, it is a
method of inquiry, a way of learning about the world
around us. It is a means by which we try to observe
certain physical, social or other events and understand
their basis, their interaction, and their meaning. The
way in which scientists do this is primarily through a
rather formal process of observation coupled with
rational, logical thinking.


51
Scientific inquiry tends to proceed upon the
basis of established paradigms, that is, an accepted
model or pattern which helps explain observed phenomena
(Kuhn, 1962). Paradigms gain their status because they
are more helpful than their competitors in solving prob-
lems which practicing scientists believe are important.
Kuhn has called scientific research within the
established paradigm "normal science." Once a scien-
tific theory has achieved the status of a paradigm, it
is declared invalid only if an alternate candidate is
available to take its place. Although such "paradigm
shifts" do indeed occur, their occurrence is unusual
enough that Kuhn describes them as "scientific revolu-
tions", basic changes in the way we think about the
world. For example, Heisenberg's development of quantum
theory, based upon the work of Planck and others, repre-
sented a wholly different view of the world than that
provided by Newtonian mechanics (Herbert, 1987).
In many respects research in the social sciences
is quite similar to research in the physical sciences.
Both physical science and social science rely upon
various paradigms for guiding scientific research and
interpretation. As noted, both rely upon logic and
observation. In addition, both seek to describe how
things actually are, rather than the way one might like
them to be. Finally, both social and physical science


52
are probabilistic they deal with patterns of events
which need not be reflected in 100% of the observable
cases.
Science, then, is a method of inquiry designed
to help us understand the world around us as it actually
exists. It is true that some scholars on the subject
such as Bernstein (1978) would disagree with such a
clean fact-value dichotomy in the discussion of science.
Still, the principal notion remains that science deals
with facts and the purpose of scientific inquiry is the
discovery of those facts.
Scientific research involves both observation
and logical thinking about natural and social phenomena.
These observed phenomena are generally described as
facts. Kaplan (1964) defines laws as universal gen-
eralizations about classes of facts. Laws must be uni-
versal, not merely accidental patterns found among a
specific set of facts. A theory is a systematic expla-
nation for the observed facts and laws that relate to a
particular aspect of life.
The way in which one "proves" a theory or scien-
tific proposition has become a matter of debate. The
original notion of logical positivists was that the
distinguishing characteristic of scientific propositions
was that they could be confirmed by tests, experiments


53
or experience. Through careful research one could prove
that one or another proposition was true.
This notion has been challenged by Popper (1959)
who observed that no statement can be proved correct in
an absolute sense since experimental results can always
be challenged and every conceivable circumstance of the
proposition can never be tested. Therefore, Popper
proposed that the test of a theory should be the
inability to falsify it, since one cannot prove it is
correct. This has become the basis on which scientific
theories are tested today.
Deductive and Inductive Approachs to Research
The traditional model of science depends upon
deductive logic. In the traditional deductive model,
research is used to test theories. In this approach,
the researcher takes an existing theory or hypothesis,
makes a number of controlled observations, and draws a
conclusion as to the validity of the hypothesis. In
this classical situation the deductive model is used to
test whether or not a theory is false.
The first step in the deductive process involves
identifying the theoretical hypotheses which are to be
tested. The next step, operationalization, involves the
specification of empirical indicators to represent the
theoretical concepts. The effect of operationalization


54
is to convert the theoretical hypothesis into an empir-
ical one.
Based upon the operationalization of theoretical
concepts, the researcher then collects data relating to
the empirical indicators. Once the data have been col-
lected, the final step in the deductive process is
statistical testing of the hypothesis. The confirmation
or disconfirmation of the empirical hypothesis is then
used for purposes of corroborating or falsifying the
theoretical hypothesis.
Where the deductive method is used most often
for theory testing, the inductive approach is generally
used for theory development. Unlike the deductive model
which begins with a hypothesis and proceeds to observa-
tions, the inductive method begins with observation.
Thus, in the deductive phase one reasons toward observa-
tions, while in the inductive approach one reasons from
observations.
In the inductive approach the observations may
involve using data, conducting interviews, examining
artifacts unobtrusively, observing behavior or other
methods. Whatever the method of observation, the induc-
tive process next moves from the observation itself
through a process of finding one or more patterns or
relationships from the observation. As the researcher
studies these patterns, he or she will seek to discover


55
patterns that may point to more or less universal prin-
ciples. These patterns, then, lead to the construction
of theories.
Inductive theory construction is not simply the
result of a flash of inspiration. Although history is
full of examples of the "inductive leap" from observa-
tions to theory, the actual process generally involves
careful effort. Glaser and Strauss (1967) have deve-
loped a rigorous approach to inductive theory develop-
ment called "grounded theory" which involves the use of
an approach called the constant comparative method. For
Glaser and Strauss generating a theory involves research
which requires careful data analysis and the categoriza-
tion and comparison of observations. From such an
inductive approach, say Glaser and Strauss, useful
theories can, and often do, emerge.
As the foregoing descriptions suggest, the two
principal approaches to social science research, the
inductive and deductive approachs are significantly
different in orientation, process and methodology. Yet
for the purposes of social science research, the two
methods can be thoroughly complementary when used in
tandem. The deductive model can be used to test
theories which are developed from the inductive logic
and qualitative research.


56
The Methodology of this Study
This study relies on the use of quantitative
methodology to test hypotheses which are derived from
the literature. The several studies of taking charge
which do exist, and which help form a point of departure
for this research, are generally qualitative in nature.
Thus the approach used herein complements previous
qualitative research of taking charge by providing a
quantitative analysis of the subject.
This study builds upon the literature and prior
research in order to develop working hypotheses related
to 11 establishing actions" which new city managers take
upon assuming office. After the development of these
hypotheses, a quantitative research approach is used in
order to test the-hypotheses.
Working Hypotheses of the Study
On the basis of previous research as discussed
in the review of the literature on executive succession,
taking charge, leadership and power, and general manage-
ment a number of working hypotheses have been developed
for the study. The hypotheses, to be tested by the
quantitative research, are shown below:
I. During the first two years on the job, city
managers engage in certain specific actions


57
designed to establish their ability to manage
effectively. These include:
1. Information gathering which serves as the
basis for other establishing actions taken by
the city manager.
2. Network building designed to create a
network of relationships with people who can
help the manager accomplish his or her
objectives.
3. Creation of shared visions with the city
council and key employees which serves as
both a basis for action by city manager and
criteria for evaluation of the city manager.
4. Credibility building which serves as a key
power base for the city manager and a plat-
form from which the city manager can act.
II. The first action taken by new city managers is
information gathering which forms the basis
for other establishing actions. Other estab-
lishing actions tend to proceed concurrently
following completion of the initial informa-
tion gathering phase. Specifically, these
actions occur as follows:
1. The first actions taken by new city
managers is information gathering.


58
2. After information gathering, other
establishing actions tend to proceed
concurrently.
3. The information gathered is used by the
new manager as a basis for taking other
establishing actions.
III. The importance which new city managers attach
to establishing behaviors is:
1. Positively related to size of the city
organization.
2. Not significantly related to age or
years of experience (per se), legal
authority, educational background, sex
or ethnic background.
IV. There is a positive correlation between the
degree of importance which managers assign to
establishing actions and success indicators
assessed by the study. Managers who consider
establishing behavior more important tend to
have higher success scores than managers who
attach less importance to such behavior.
Technical Limitations and Delimitations of the Study
This study, as with any research project, is
subject to a number of limitations and delimitations.
Conceptual limits on the study were discussed in the


59
opening chapter. In this section, technical limitations
and delimitations are discussed. In this regard a com-
mon limitation with quantitative research involves the
size and composition of the survey sample.
Where a sample of the entire study population is
not possible, the typical means of dealing with this
problem is through the use of random sampling, strati-
fied sampling or judgmental sampling (Miller, 1983).
Fortunately, in the case of this study the entire popu-
lation of city managers appointed during a one year
period between April, 1985 and April, 1986 can be sur-
veyed .
Even given the ability to survey an entire study
population, there is still the potential limitation
relating to the sampling frame which will be used for
selection of those who will receive the written survey.
In this study the sampling frame is composed of all new
city manager appointments reported by the International
City Management Association (ICMA) during the period
April 29, 1985 through April 28, 1986.
In spite of the ability to survey all of the
city managers appointed over a one year period there
remains a potential limitation here which relates to the
percentage of appointments reported and the degree to
which the International City Management Association
represents the universe of city managers. In this


60
study, the sampling frame is not considered a severe
limitation because ICMA reports appointments of all
members as well as those of some non-members.
The sampling frame is very comprehensive since
almost two thirds (64.7%) of all city managers and
professional local government administrators in the
United States are members of the association (ICMA 1986,
349). Thus the sample should be fairly representative
of the profession as a whole.
A final technical limitation, inherent in all
survey research, is the fact that the researcher cannot
control the willingness and ability of those surveyed to
respond to the survey instrument. In order to minimize
this inherent limitation and help encourage response the
author was able to gain approval from the International
City Management Association to use their name in the
cover letter which accompanied the questionnaire. This
was a successful approach and resulted in a final
response rate to the survey of 65.48%.
The Quantitative Research
The purpose of the quantitative research is to
test each of the hypotheses stated in the preceding
section. To do this, the quantitative research involved
the use of a written survey instrument in the form of a
self-administered questionnaire. The unit of analysis


61
for the written survey is the individual city manager
(Babbie, 1986).
As indicated, the sampling frame was composed of
all new city manager appointments reported by the
International City Management Association during the
period April 29, 1985 through April 28, 1986. Specif-
ically, the questionnaire was sent to all city managers
who were appointed to new positions between April 29,
1985 and April 28, 1986. This involved sending surveys
to 310 city managers. These managers constituted a
majority of the entire population of professional city
managers who have been in their positions between two
and three years. The rationale for surveying managers
who have been on the job between two and three years is
discussed earlier in this paper.
In designing the survey instrument, a number of
steps were taken to encourage an increased response
rate. This was done in recognition of the fact that the
popularity of surveys as a research method has reached
the point where respondents are increasingly selective
about the questionnaires they answer.
These steps include the use of a letter by the
author, who is a professional city manager and thus a
colleague of the respondents, designed to encourage a
response by presenting an altruistic and personal appeal
from a known source. This letter was used since the


most effective means of improving response rates is by
questionnaires which come from persons who the respon-
dent knows (Miller, 1983).
Another key step used to encourage a strong
response to the survey was gaining permission of the
International City Management Association to use their
name in connection with the study. This was done with
the assurance that ICMA would receive survey results.
Using the name of the Association added a note of fa-
miliarity to the questionnaire. These steps were suc-
cessful in achieving a significant response to the
survey.
The survey was pre-tested on a group of ten
managers who were known to the author and who had been
in their positions between two and three years. After
the pre-test each manager was personally interviewed and
each question was discussed with respect to matters of
clarity, relevance, etc. On the basis of these inter-
views the survey instrument was revised, resulting the
in final survey instrument which was mailed to the group
of 310 city managers. Of the 310 managers who received
the survey, 203 complete responses were received for a
net response rate of 65.48%.


CHAPTER IV
CITY MANAGERS TAKING CHARGE: RESEARCH FINDINGS
Review of Purposes of the Study
As discussed in Chapter One, the overall purpose
of this study is to examine the actions taken by city
managers during their first two.years in the position to
determine what type of actions they take, if any, in
order to establish their effectiveness in their new
position. The general guestions which this study seeks
to answer are:-
1. Are there common actions which city managers
take during their first two years on the job in
order to establish their ability to manage
effectively?
2. If so, do these actions form patterns and are
these patterns interrelated?
3. Are these establishing actions affected by
personal or professional characteristics of the
city manager?
4. Is there a relationship between the actions
taken and individual's success as measured by
various success indicators?


64
Survey Responses
The questions presented above, expressed in the
form of several hypotheses, were tested through the use
of a self-administered survey instrument. The instrument
was designed to ascertain whether the city managers in
the sample did in fact take the establishing actions
hypothesized, the relative importance of such actions to
the manager, the order in which actions were taken, the
success enjoyed by the manager, and the personal and
professional background of the respondent. A copy of
the survey may be found in Appendix B of this study.
The survey, along with a letter from the author
explaining the purpose of the study, was mailed to 310
city and county managers who were appointed between
April 29, 1985 and April 28, 1986. The response rate to
the survey instrument was excellent with 203 of the 310
surveys being returned, equating to an overall response
rate of 65.48%. This is a very good response rate for a
survey of this type, providing an excellent basis on
which to build the data set. Each survey received was
coded using the SPSS fixed data format, and the re-
sulting data was checked for errors, cleaned, and re-
checked. This provided the data set for the quantita-
tive analysis described in this chapter.


65
Characteristics of Responding City Managers
Tables 1 - 4 which follow show the personal
characteristics of the respondents. These tables pro-
vide a frequency distribution and percentages for the
age, sex, race, and educational level of the respon-
dents. As these tables show, the respondents were prin-
cipally white males, well educated, with an average age
of just over forty years. While this group underrepre-
sents women and minorities in terms of their percentage
of the population as a whole, it accurately reflects the
demographic characteristics of the city management
profession (ICMA 1981, 169).
Table 1 AGE DISTRIBUTION OF RESPONDENTS
Valid Cum
Age Frequency Percent Percent Percent
25-39 97 47.8 47.8 47 .8
40-54 84 41.4 41.4 89 .2
55-99 22 10.8 10.8 100 .0
TOTAL 203 100.0 100.0
Mean 41.493 Median 40.000
Minimum 26.000 Maximum 62.000
Table 2 - SEX OF RESPONDENTS
Valid Cum
Sex Frequency Percent Percent Percent
Male 200 98.5 98.5 98.5
Female 3 1.5 1.5 100.0
TOTAL
203
100.0
100.0


66
Table 3 RACE OF RESPONDENTS
Race Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cum Percent
White 198 97.5 97.5 97.5
Hispanic 5 2.5 2.5 100.0
TOTAL 203 100.0 100.0
Table 4 - EDUCATIONAL LEVEL OF RESPONDENTS
Education Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cum Percent
High School 4 2.0 2.0 2.0
B. A. 47 23.2 23.2 25.1
M. A. 103 50.7 50.7 75.9
M.A.+ 47 23.2 23.2 99.0
PhD. 2 1.0 1.0 100.0
TOTAL 203 100.0 100.0
In terms of professional backgrounds, of the
total of 203 managers responding, 196 (96.6%) were ICMA
members while 7 were non-members. The respondents rep-
resented primarily cities, with 197 (97%) being city
managers and 6 respondents being county managers.
Finally, 200 (98.5%) of those responding were from the
United States and 3 were from Canada. Thus, in terms of
ICMA member/non-member, city/county, and U.S./Canadian
status the responding sample was very homogeneous which
foreclosed comparisons across these dimensions.
In other aspects of their professional back-
ground, however, respondents were more diverse. This
diversity facilitated a number of useful comparisons
which are discussed later in this chapter. Tables 5-9


which follow provide frequency distributions across the
dimensions of educational background, city manager
experience, number of city manager positions held,
recruitment from inside or outside, and whether the
respondent was still in the surveyed position.
Table 5 EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND OF RESPONDENTS
Discipline Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cum Percent
Public Admin. 159 78.3 78.3 78.3
Planning 6 3.0 3.0 81.3
Engineering 9 4.4 4.4 85.7
Finance/Acctg. 12 5.9 5.9 91.6
Other 17 8.4 8.4 100.0
TOTAL 203 100.0 100.0
Table 6 - TOTAL YEARS OF CITY MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE
Years Experience Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cum Percent
0-5 68 33.5 33.5 33.5
5-9 68 33.5 33.5 67.0
10 19 49 24.1 24.1 91.1
over 20 18 8.9 8.9 100.0
TOTAL 203 100.0 100.0
Table 7 NUMBER OF CITY MANAGEMENT POSITIONS HELD
Number of CM Positions Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cum Percent
1 62 30.5 30.5 30.5
2 68 33.5 33.5 64.0
3 46 22.7 22.7 86.7
4 15 7.4 7.4 94.1
5 + 12 5.9 5.9 100.0
TOTAL 203 100.0 100.0
Mean 2.246 Median 2. 000


68
Table 8 MANAGER RECRUITED FROM INSIDE
OR OUTSIDE OF THE ORGANIZATION
Manager Recruited From Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cum Percent
Outside 173 85.2 85.2 85.2
Inside 30 14.8 14.8 100.0
TOTAL 203 100.0 100.0
Table 9 MANAGER STILL IN SURVEYED POSITION OR
MOVED FROM POSITION AT TIME OF SURVEY.
City Manager Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cum Percent
Still There 186 91.6 91.6 91.6
Moved 17 8.4 8.4 100.0
TOTAL 203 100.0 100.0
Hypothesis I Establishing Behavior
The first hypothesis deals directly with the
matter of the existence of "establishing behavior".
This is the fundamental hypothesis of the study. It is
an important issue since the notion of establishing
behavior, per se, is a concept new to the literature of
both public and private management. The several ele-
ments of the first hypothesis postulate the existence of
establishing behavior and describe the specific actions
associated with such behavior. The first hypothesis, as
previously stated, is:


69
During the first'two years on the job, city mana-
gers engage in certain, common specific actions
designed to establish their ability to manage
effectively. These actions, called establishing
actions herein, include:
1. Information gathering
2. Network building
3. Creation of shared visions
4. Credibility building
This hypothesis was extensively tested through
the survey. In all, 21 of the 43 questions in the
survey dealt specifically with establishing behavior.
These questions asked the respondent to indicate if he
or she engaged in the behavior identified and, if so,
asked the respondent to indicate the degree of impor-
tance which the respondent attached to the behavior.
For example, question 22 which focused on the matter of
network building was as follows:
22. (I) Developed a network of persons throughout
the organization who could help me accomplish
results.
NOT IMPORTANCE
DONE Low Moderate High
0 1 2 3 4 5
If a respondent circled "0", it was an indication that
the person did not engage in the behavior at all. If he
or she circled a number from "1" to "5", it was an


70
indication that the action was taken and of the degree
of importance which they attached to the action.
The structure of the survey instrument was such
that there were several questions which related to each
establishing action of gathering and using information,
building networks, establishing credibility, and devel-
oping shared goals. In examining the survey results,
each question was analyzed both individually and as a
part of a larger aggregate measure which encompassed all
questions related to a particular establishing action.
For example, the survey contained six questions
(Nos. 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19) which related to the
establishing action of information gathering. For pur-
poses of some of the analyses herein, the responses to
these six questions were added together via a computer-
generated aggregate called "ALLINFO." This aggregate
score provided a convenient and useful overall measure
of the importance which the respondent(s) attached to
information gathering activity.
Thus, in the analysis of the data, each of the
questions related to establishing behavior was examined
both individually and combined with the other questions
related to the same establishing action through the use
of a synthesized aggregate variable as described above.
Finally, an overall superordinate variable ("ALLALL")


71
was created which aggregated the responses of all
twenty-one questions related to establishing behavior.
Listed below is a summary of the 21 questions
which dealt directly with establishing behavior as well
as the nomenclature used for the aggregate measure.
1. Information gathering 6 questions,
Nos. 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19.
Aggregated to variable "ALLINFO".
2. The use of information as a basis for other
establishing actions (network building, shared
goals, credibility building) 4 questions,
Nos. 23, 25, 27, 34.
Aggregated to variable "USEDINFO".
3. Network building 3 questions,
Nos. 20, 21, 22.
Aggregated to variable "ALLNET".
4. Credibility building 4 questions,
Nos. 24, 26, 28, 29.
Aggregated to variable "ALLCRED".
5. Creation of shared goals, 4 questions,
Nos. 30, 31, 32, 33.
Aggregated to variable "ALLGOAL".
In order to test the first hypothesisthat the
respondents engaged in establishing actions of gathering
information, creating networks, building credibility and
establishing shared visions or goalsthe computer was


72
used to check the data. This was accomplished by-
writing a simple computer program which examined the
answers of each respondent to the 21 direct questions
relating to establishing actions. This program identi-
fied any of the above questions which were answered as
"NOT DONE". Through this means, all respondents
answering "NOT DONE" were individually identified.
Of the 203 total respondents, only 4 respondents
reported that they had not taken establishing actions in
one or more areas. Of the 2i possible actions, the
number of "NOT DONE" actions among these four respon-
dents ranged from one to ten. No respondent indicated
that he or she had taken no establishing actions at all.
In summary, of the 203 respondents 98.1% indicated that
they had engaged, to some degree, in all of the estab-
lishing actions identified in the survey.
Because of the importance of this hypothesis
the survey included a second set of questions, numbers
35 through 38, which were designed, in part, to serve as
an independent cross check on the universality of
establishing actions. These questions, set within a
different section of the survey, provided respondents a
second opportunity to indicate whether they did or did
not take a particular type of establishing action.
An analysis of these questions shows that 90.6%
of those responding indicated that they engaged in all


73
four establishing behaviors (information gathering,
network creation, credibility building, and goal set-
ting); 98.5% engaged in all but one of the behaviors;
and 99% engaged in all but two of the establishing
behaviors. This data reaffirms the findings of the
foregoing analysis and confirms the widespread existence
of establishing behavior among new city managers.
In addition to showing that the vast majority of
respondents engage in establishing behavior, the survey
results also indicated that the respondents consider
such actions to be very important. This is clearly
demonstrated by a test aggregating survey responses for
establishing actions.
This test was conducted by aggregating survey
responses for all questions related to establishing
actions. When all 21 of these questions are taken
together, with each question having a maximum possible
score of 5, the overall maximum "importance" score which
could be achieved for all questions is 105 (21x5). The
theoretical mean is thus 52.5 for these questions. A
statistical analysis of the actual responses produces an
actual overall mean score of 79.108.
This score is far above the theoretical mean,
suggesting that, overall, respondents attached consider-
able importance to establishing actions. Even when
broken down into individual establishing actions, res-


74
pondents scored consistently above the theoretical mid-
point on all of the aggregate variables for information
gathering, use of information gathered, creating net-
works, building credibility and establishing shared
goals. This is shown on Table 10, below.
Table 10 MID-POINTS FOR ALL AGGREGATE
ESTABLISHING ACTION VARIABLES
Establishing Actual Mid- Actual above
Action in the Mean Point Mid-pt . (%)
Information Gathering 23.236 15.000 54. 9%
Use of Information 14.690 10.000 46. 9%
Creating Networks 9.921 7.500 32 . 2%
Building Credibility 16.369 10.000 63. 6%
Establishing Goals 14.892 10.000 48. 9%
Total All Items 79.108 52.500 50. 68%
Thus, it is clear from the data that the vast
majority of the new city manager survey respondents
engaged to some degree in all of the establishing
behaviors identified in the survey instrument. This
finding is borne out by two separate tests utilizing
separate questions. Both tests found the vast majority
(98.1% and 90.6% respectively) of new city managers in-
dicated that they engaged in all of the establishing
behaviors.
In addition to taking establishing actions, the
managers surveyed assigned considerable importance to
these actions in total. In sum, on the basis of the
data, the first hypothesis is supported. Establishing


75
behavior appears to be a practice almost universally
engaged in by new city managers and one to which they
ascribe a high degree of importance.
Hypothesis II The Primacy of Information
The second hypothesis relates to the timing of
various establishing actions and the interrelationship
between them in terms of time. The second hypothesis
states:
The first action taken by new city managers is
information gathering which forms the basis for
other establishing actions. Other establishing
actions tend to proceed concurrently following
completion of the initial information gathering
phase. Specifically,
1. The first action taken by new city managers is
information gathering.
2. After information gathering, other establishing
actions tend to proceed concurrently.
3. The information gathered is used by the manager
as a basis for taking other establishing
actions.
This hypothesis highlights the fundamental
nature of establishing actions. The establishing ac-
tions described here may be thought of as "precursor
actions". These are not actions taken by new executives


76
which relate to the substance of the organizational
operation. Rather, they are grounding actions, steps
which allow the executive to act effectively in substan-
tive areas by giving him or her an adequate information
base, a network of supporters and contacts, credibility,
and a shared sense of mission with co-workers. Estab-
lishing actions may be seen therefore as precursor ac-
tions which make possible effective substantive actions
by the executive.
Four questions in the survey (numbers 35, 36, 37
and 38) were specifically designed to test this hypo-
thesis. These questions first asked respondents to
identify whether they undertook each of the various
establishing actions at all (see previous section). The
question then went on to explore whether they undertook
a particular establishing action as their first step on
the new job, or whether they undertook the establishing
action concurrently with other establishing actions.
Based upon the survey data it is not clear that informa-
tion gathering, or any other establishing action, took
place ahead of any other activity. While information
gathering was cited as having been done first more often
than other activities, there was little evidence to
suggest that new managers first gathered information and
only then undertook other establishing actions.


77
Of the respondents, 42.9% indicated that there
was no one action which was taken ahead of the others.
In other words, these respondents indicated that they
took all establishing actions at the same time. An
additional 41.4% indicated that they took one or another
action first, but it is important to note that the first
action which these respondents indicated varied from
information gathering, to credibility building, to goal
development. In short, there was no one action which was
clearly undertaken before the others.
On the basis of the data, the first element of
the hypothesis, that information gathering precedes all
other establishing actions, is not supported. There is
no clear evidence that information gathering precedes
all other establishing activities of new city managers.
While there is no clear evidence that new city
managers undertook information gathering prior to other
establishing actions, the data does provide ample indi-
cation that most of the new managers viewed establishing
behavior as being composed of actions which were taken
concurrently. In this respect, the data suggest that
most of the managers felt that they undertook informa-
tion gathering, network creation, credibility building
and goal development "in a generally concurrent fashion.
This is particularly clear when the responses to
questions 35 through 38 are examined. Taking the re-


78
sponses to the four questions in total, 38.9% of the
managers indicated that they undertook all of the ac-
tions concurrently. An additional 39.9% of the managers
responded that they took three of the four actions
concurrently. Thus, in total, 78.8% of the respondents
indicated that they had taken at least three of the four
possible actions concurrently. The second element of
this hypothesis that network creation, credibility
building, and goal development tend to proceed concur-
rently is strongly supported by the data.
The third element of this hypothesis states that
the information gathered is used by the new manager as a
basis for the other three establishing actions. Ques-
tions 23, 25, 27 and 34 were specifically designed to
test this element. They asked the respondents respec-
tively whether they had used the information gathered as
a basis for creating networks (23), for building cred-
ibility with council members (25) or department direc-
tors (27), and to assist in developing shared goals with
council and staff (34).
The answers to this question were overwhelmingly
in the affirmative. They clearly indicate that the city
managers had used the information gathered as a basis
for other establishing actions. Table 11 which follows
provides a summary of these responses.


Table 11 FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION ON THE
USE OF INFORMATION AS A BASIS
FOR OTHER ESTABLISHING ACTIONS
79
Establishing
Action
Taken
Creating networks
Credibility with council
Credibility with staff
Establishing Goals
Percent using gathered
information as a basis
for the action taken
97.0%
98.5%
98.0%
97.5%
As the table above shows the vast majority of
new city managers used the information gathered during
their first two years on the job as a basis on which to
take other establishing actions. Of egual interest,
however, is the importance which the managers ascribed
to the use of information as a basis for creating net-
works, building credibility, and developing shared goals
with council and staff.
Each of the four questions related to the use of
information used a standard five point scale with which
the respondent indicated whether the action taken was of
low, fairly low, moderate, fairly high, or high
importance to establishing their ability to manage
effectively. Table 12 summarizes the percent who
identified information as either of fairly high or very
high importance for other actions.


Table 12 FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION ON THE
IMPORTANCE OF INFORMATION AS A
BASIS FOR ESTABLISHING ACTIONS
80
Establishing
Action
Taken
Creating networks
Credibility with council
Credibility with staff
Establishing Goals
Percent indicating that
information was either
important or very important
52.7%
75.4%
61.1%
60.1%
Tables 11 and 12 above clearly support the third
element of the hypothesis which states that information
gathered by the new city manager is used as a basis for
creating networks, building credibility, and developing
goals.
Hypothesis III Establishing Actions
and the New Manager's Background
The third hypothesis suggests a relationship
between the city manager's background and importance
which he or she attaches to establishing behavior.
Specifically, this hypothesis states that:
The importance which new city managers attach to
establishing behaviors is:
1. Positively related to size of the city
organization.
2. Not significantly related to age, years of
experience, legal authority, educational
background, sex or ethnic background.


81
The concept on which the first element of this
hypothesis is based is the conventional notion that
managing a larger organization is more difficult, and
tends to require an individual who has a strong combin-
ation of training, experience, and ability. Therefore,
it is hypothesized that managers of larger cities will
place a higher overall value on establishing behavior
than managers of smaller organizations.
The second element of the hypothesis suggests
that no single factor alone such as age, experience, or
education will be linked to viewing establishing
behavior as a critical element for success. It is only
when these factors exist in combination, as typified by
the manager of a larger city, that the manager will
place a higher regard on establishing behavior.
In order to test both elements of the hypothesis
a matrix was developed which produced the Pearson r of
all variables with all othbr variables. This data was
then analyzed, with the objective of identifying pos-
itive relationships at or above the .05 level of
statistical significance.
Specifically, the correlation between an
individual's aggregate scores on all of the establishing
actions questions (numbers 14 through 34) was correlated
with the factors of city organization size as measured
by number of employees in the city, the manager's age,


82
educational level, experience, number of city manager
positions held, and average tenure. Sex and race could
not be measured due to the very small sample of
respondents in these areas.
The results of these correlations are presented
in Table 13, below. As this table shows, a clear posi-
tive correlation exists between the city manager's per-
ceived importance of establishing actions as a whole and
the size of the city organization which he or she man-
ages. Other factors of age, experience, number of
cities served, legal authority in the position, and
education did not correlate highly. These data tend to
support this hypothesis.
Table 13 CORRELATION BETWEEN MANAGER'S PERCEIVED
OVERALL IMPORTANCE OF ESTABLISHING
ACTIONS AND VARIOUS CHARACTERISTICS
Characteristics Correlation with aggregate
of city managers measure of importance of
establishing actions
.2554 **
.0237
.0352
.0166
.1736
.1046
** significant to .001.
All other correlations significant to .05.
Size of city organization
Manager's age
Manager's experience
Number of positions held
Manager's education
Manager's legal authority


83
Hypothesis IV Establishing Actions
and the City Manager's Success
The fourth and final hypothesis postulates a
positive relationship between the success of the new
city manager and the establishing actions which he or
she takes. This hypothesis states:
There is a positive correlation between the degree
of importance which managers assign to establishing
actions and the success indicators assessed by the
study. Managers who assign a higher degree of total
importance to establishing behaviors tend to have
higher success scores than managers who attach less
importance to establishing actions.
The difficulty in testing this hypothesis, of
course, is to devise a measure of success. This is no
easy task, as the many studies on succession, leader-
ship, and executive behavior will attest. Generally,
the solution used is that of continued tenure, that is,
"Is the person still on the job?" Although continued
tenure can be one measure of success, it can also be an
indicator of lack of individual initiative, unwilling-
ness to take necessary business or political risks, or
other less-desirable characteristics.
For the purposes of this study an effort was
made to develop a more reliable indicator of success
without wholly disregarding the matter of continued


84
tenure as at least a partial basis for determining
success. To do this, a number of questions were in-
cluded in the survey which could be related to success.
These included questions on salary increases relative to
other employees (question 39), number of awards received
by the city (question 40), changes in bond rating (ques-
tion 41), the manager's assessment of his or her own
success (question 42), and the manager's perception of
the council's view of his or her success.
In order to test of these success indicators, an
analysis was conducted whereby each of these indicators
was related to second variable in the survey, a question
which asked if the individual was still employed in the
city. Since the survey sample was delimited to a group
appointed between April 1985 and April 1986, and the
survey was conducted in June, 1988, the longest possible
tenure any respondent could have in the surveyed postion
would be just over three years.
Since the average tenure of city managers is 4.2
years (ICMA, 1981), any manager no longer on the job
would have had a tenure of between 25% and 50% less than
average. From this it was reasoned that many of the
managers who indicated that they were no longer in the
city to which the survey was addressed had left their
positions involuntarily. This was clearly confirmed in
some cases by notes or newspaper clippings recounting


85
the termination of the city manager which a number of
respondents this group attached to their surveys.
When an analysis was conducted involving the
managers who were no longer employed with the city and
those still employed several interesting results were
obtained. In the first analysis a correlation was
developed on the manager's continued tenure and various
success measures. This analysis produced a significant
negative correlation between the manager's continued
tenure and the success measures found in questions
number 42 and 43 which solicited the manager's own
assessment of his or her success in the position and the
manager's assessment of the council's view of his or her
success. In other words, managers who were no longer
employed with the city scored lower on these success
ratings than managers who were still employed.
Specifically, question 42 (the manager's self asses-
sment of his or her own performance) produced an corre-
lation of -.2146 (p < .01). Question 43 (the manager's
assessment of the council's view of performance) pro-
duced a correlation of -.2332 (p < .001). A synthesized
(aggregate) measure of these two variables combined
produced a correlation of -.2611 (p < .001). None of
the other success measures used in the survey produced
any type of significant correlation with tenure.


86
A second test of success measures was conducted
wherein the average scores for all success measures were
compared for both city managers who were still employed
and managers who were no longer employed with the sur-
veyed city. The findings from this approach are reflec-
ted in the following table which compares the average
success scores for managers who continue to be employed
at the surveyed city with those who had left. In each
case the still-employed manager assessed his or her
success higher than those managers no longer employed.
Other success measures used in the survey did not
produce significant mean differences between the groups.
Table 14 COMPARISON OF AVERAGE SUCCESS SCORES OF
MANAGERS STILL WITH THE SURVEYED CITY
TO THOSE WHO HAD LEFT THE SURVEYED CITY
Success Still employed No longer
Factors in the city the city
1. Manager's own view 3.930 3.529
2. Manager's assessment
of council view 4.005 3.529
3. Combined manager assessment (1+2) 7.935 7.059
On the basis of this test of the various success
measures in the survey, it was determined that the
manager's own assessment of his or her success, the
manager's perception of the council's view of his or her
success, and the combination of these two ratings repre-


87
sented the most reliable measure of success for the
purposes of this study.
In order to actually test this hypothesis, a
matrix of correlations was computed for all variables
from the survey. These correlations were then studied
with particular reference identifying positive correla-
tions between the scores on the manager's perceived
importance of various establishing actions and the
success indicators described above. In developing this
analysis, the aggregate variables discussed earlier in
this chapter were synthesized which provided a conven-
ient way of looking at the combined effect of all
variables related to a single establishing action, for
example, developing shared goals.
Table 15 below provides a summary of all sig-
nificant positive correlations between success factors
and establishing actions. From this table, it can be
seen that of the 21 individual establishing actions
questions in the survey, three produced variables which
were correlated with the selected success measures.
More important, however, is the fact that the
overall aggregate variable which includes all estab-
lishing variables shows a positive correlation with the
success measure. In other words, managers who ranked
establishing actions overall of higher importance showed
a higher degree of success. In addition it is useful to


88
note that three of the five correlated variables relate
to goal setting, which was determined to be the estab-
lishing action most highly correlated with the success
measures.
Table 15 SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANT POSITIVE CORRELATIONS
BETWEEN SUCCESS VARIABLES AND ESTABLISHING
BEHAVIOR VARIABLES
Establishing
Action
(1)
Manager's
assessment
of own
success
(2)
Manager's
assessment
of council
view
(1+2)
Combined
total of
both
variables
Gathered info on
council attitudes .2201* .1031 .1900*
Developed shared
goal with council .1610
Used info for
shared council and
department goals .2301*
Aggregate measure
of importance of
developing goals .1728
Aggregate measure
of importance of
all estab. actions .1883*
.1830*
.1274
.1940*
.1414
.2005*
.2098*
.1887*
.1930*
The correlations between establishing actions
and success measures shown in Table 15 reflect the
entire survey population. When the statistic is com-
puted on the basis of only those respondents who are
still in the surveyed position the correlation between
establishing actions and success measures rises signif-
icantly. Table 16 which follows provides a clearer


89
picture of the importance of establishing actions to the
success of the city manager.
Table 16 SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANT POSITIVE CORRELATIONS
BETWEEN SUCCESS VARIABLES AND AGGREGATE
ESTABLISHING BEHAVIOR VARIABLE FOR CITY
MANAGERS STILL IN SURVEYED POSITION
(1)
Manager's
assessment
Aggregate meas- of own
ure of impor- success
tance of estab-
lishing actions:
(2)
Manager's
assessment
of council
view
(1+2)
Combined
total of
both
variables
Computed from total
survey population
(from Table 15) .1883* .1414 .1930*
Computed only with
managers still in
surveyed position .2505** .2053* .2681**
The findings of this study support the fourth hypo-
thesis and suggest that establishing actions are indeed
related to the success of city managers. They are
positively related to success measures used in the
study. Moreover, city managers who are still employed
considered establishing actions more important than city
managers who had left the surveyed city.
Other Findings
The data related to the fourth hypothesis sug-
gest that establishing behavior is indeed important for
success. Nevertheless, success as a CEO is a compli-
cated matter as an analysis of other data from the


90
survey shows. The information analyzed suggested that,
while establishing behavior is very important, there are
other factors which appear to contribute to the success
of new city managers. Table 17 which follows is organ-
ized similar to Table 15 however the factors being
measured on Table 17 are situational variables, rather
than establishing actions.
Table 17 SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANT POSITIVE
CORRELATIONS BETWEEN SUCCESS
VARIABLES AND SITUATIONAL VARIABLES
(1) (2) (1+2)
Manager's Manager's Combined
Manager's assessment assessment total of
Situation of own of council both
Characteristic success view variables
Managers legal
authority .0901 .1948* .1650
Clarity of
council goals .1523 .1763* .1915*
The data in Table 17 suggest the possibility
interaction between behavioral and situational varia-
bles. This notion was tested through the use of two
multiple regression equations, one which developed a
multiple r for only the establishing action (behavioral)
variables from Table 15 and one which added to that
equation the situational variables from Table 17. In
the first equation the multiple r for the combined
success variable was .2303 with a standard error of
1.05.