In this paper, we set out to investigate whether strategic leadership matters at a moment in the life cycle of the firm when a change is made in the top leadership. By far, most of the conceptual and empirical literature on the consequences of CEO succession involves United States companies. Therefore, in this paper, we set out to investigate the impact of CEO succession on strategic and organizational changes in Japanese companies. The empirical study consisted of a matched control group design involving 81 Japanese companies experiencing a CEO succession event and 81 companies with continuity of their CEO leadership. The results of the study can be summarized as follows. Overall CEO succession was not associated with radical strategic and organization changes. Japanese companies did engage in evolutionary organization and strategic adaptations during the five year period of the study but independent of CEO succession. The governance structure moderates organization changes (independent of CEO succession) in particular when the firm was affiliated with a main bank and the firm was experiencing severe financial pressure.
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