Toward an Attention-Based Model of CEO and Innovation



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CEOs are primarily responsible for managing technological innovation as the key source of competitive advantage for science-based and technological intensive industries. Thus, studying the effects of CEOs on innovation is an important stream of research in strategic management. However, research on this topic has not reached consistent conclusions because of both theoretical and empirical limitations. To address the limitations and advance knowledge, this research builds an attention-based model that integrates the upper echelons perspective and the attention-based view of the firm to explain and predict how CEOs influence technological innovation through their attentional perspective. This model conceptualizes a CEO’s attention as a multidimensional construct that has three independent dimensions – attention breadth, attention focus, and attention heterogeneity. Further, to capture the complexity of technological innovation, this model includes three distinct dimensions – innovation productivity, innovation approach, and innovation quality. This attention-based model offers three unique advancements. First, this model probes into the substance of information-processing by examining a CEO’s attention, which is one of the most crucial cognitive mechanisms. Second, this model explicates the mechanism and process that underlie relationships between CEO demographic characteristics and technological innovation. Finally, this model presents a holistic yet parsimonious conceptual framework that guides future research by theorizing the causality between the three dimensions of managerial attention and the three dimensions of technological innovation.



Chief executive officers (CEO), Top managers, Attention, Managerial attention, Innovations, Technological innovation