Inducements and motives at the top: A holistic perspective on the drivers of executive behavior

Adam J. Wowak, Luis Gomez-Mejia, Adam L. Steinbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Scholars have devoted considerable effort to exploring the causes of executive behavior, with the accumulated research spanning multiple social science disciplines. This variety is beneficial in that numerous theories and methodologies have been brought to bear on the topic, but over time has led to increasingly fragmented literatures that often differ widely in their causal accounts of executive behavior. Confronted by such fragmentation, scholars in this domain tend to examine research questions through the lens of a single motivational perspective when developing and testing models. We believe that a more holistic perspective on the drivers of executive behavior can help scholars build richer models that bridge disciplinary silos by reframing existing theories in a new light. We specifically aim to bring clarity to this domain by developing a parsimonious framework for understanding executive motives in terms of the nature of the rewards (pecuniary versus nonpecuniary) that motivate executive action and the motivational frame of reference (individualized versus socialized agency) for conceptualizing rewards. Using this bidimensional framework to synthesize research from the last decade, we outline a platform for research that conceptualizes executive motives as the lynchpin for understanding, integrating, and advancing theoretical perspectives on executive behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)669-702
Number of pages34
JournalAcademy of Management Annals
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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