New Leaders’ Managerial Background and the Performance of Public Organizations : The Theory of Publicness Fit

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-236
Journal / PublicationJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Issue number1
Online published28 Feb 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


We develop a theory of the effect of top management succession on the performance of public organizations. The theory is rooted in the fundamental characteristics of an organization's publicness: ownership, funding, and regulation. We construct the concept of publicness fit-the match between the organization and the leader's previous managerial experience. We argue that the effect of publicness fit on performance depends on the balance of adaptation benefits and disruption costs, which in turn depends on the prior performance of an organization. We propose a research agenda to empirically evaluate propositions developed from the theory of publicness fit.

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