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Exploring the impact of top management team composition on player selection in Major League Baseball

Jess C Dixon, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Originally conceptualized by Hambrick and Mason (1984), the upper echelons perspective (UEP) has become a dominant theme in the study of strategic decision making across a great number of disciplines. Over the past two decades, the work of these authors has been cited in over 500 refereed journal publications, lending credence to the applicability of the UEP when studying top management teams (TMTs) (Carpenter, 2005; Carpenter, Geletkanycz, & Sanders, 2004). To compensate for shortcomings in accessibility and instrumentation, the UEP uses demographic variables as proxies for the underlying psychological constructs that shape TMTs' interpretations of business situations in formulating and implementing appropriate strategic alternatives (Cannella & Holcomb, 2005a; Carpenter et al., 2004). In the context of Major League Baseball (MLB), the selection and development of player resources are critical to organizational performance (Olson & Schwab, 2000). Perhaps more than any other professional sport, the selection of MLB player talent is amenable to influence by the decision making of clubs' front office executives. Policies and decisions regarding whom to scout, whom to draft, whom to promote, whom to demote, whom to acquire, whom to trade away, whom to play in which positions, and whom to hit in which slot in the batting line-up are all elements that are managed to some degree by the club's TMT (Gamson & Scotch, 1964). Consistent with the UEP, it was believed that the cognitions, values and perceptions of MLB TMT members, along with their undeniable influence on the process of strategic choice, would be associated with significant player selection outcomes. Drawing upon theory and literature related to the UEP, the researcher employed fixed-effects regression models to explore the effects of TMT composition on the quality of player selection in MLB between 1990 and 2002. Using a linear run estimation model of offensive performance called Extrapolated Runs Basic (Furtado, 1999) as the basis for measuring player selection quality, the findings from this study suggested that basic TMT characteristics had a limited capacity to affect the overall quality of player selection decisions in MLB between 1990 and 2002. Specifically, the overall regression results suggested that these variables cumulatively accounted for between 2.5% and 3% of the variance in the offensive run productivity of players that were promoted to major league rosters during this time period. Furthermore, the results suggested that the longer TMT members worked together, and the more highly-educated they were, the better they were at making player selection decisions. Taken together, these findings have considerable implications for both theory and practice.

Subject Area

Management|Physical education|Recreation

Recommended Citation

Dixon, Jess C, "Exploring the impact of top management team composition on player selection in Major League Baseball" (2007). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3289219.