Follow the leader? Leader succession and staff attitudes in public sector organizations

Ben Geys, Sara Connolly, Hussein Kassim, Zuzana Murdoch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


Public sector organizations face regular turnover in top leadership positions. Yet little is known about how such changes affect staff attitudes. The authors argue that top leader succession may influence staff attitudes, particularly when new leaders are “outsiders” and/or subordinates interact regularly with their leaders. Using a unique two-wave survey conducted within the European Commission in 2008 and 2014, this analysis tests these propositions by studying the same individuals before and after shifts in top political (commissioner) and administrative (director-general) positions. The study shows that leadership succession can trigger meaningful shifts in subordinates' stated attitudes regarding the European Commission's supranational identity. These findings are important because staff attitudes about organizational values and aims represent a key driver of individual and organizational performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-564
Number of pages10
JournalPublic Administration Review
Issue number4
Early online date10 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

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