Antecedents of the chief marketing officer's presence and influence in top management teams
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Recent estimates suggest that fifty percent of the Fortune 1000 companies have a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), defined as an executive in charge of marketing in the top management team (TMT). Further, across firms that have CMOs, there exist differences in their structural positions, and therefore arguably their influence, in the TMT hierarchy. Seemingly, firms differ on these two structural choices of CMO presence and CMO influence, which in turn are indicative of the emphasis firms put on marketing and customer advocacy in the TMT, where corporate strategy is formulated. However, there is no prior research that has attempted to understand this phenomenon. This is surprising given the growing concern about marketing’s diminishing role at the level of corporate strategy in the firm. This research attempts to fill this gap by addressing the following two research questions: (1) what are the antecedents of the CMO’s presence in the TMT? and (2) what are the antecedents of the CMO’s influence in the TMT? Antecedents are identified using rationales that rely on the role of marketing in the firm, the functions that the CMO has, and the information processing requirements and power dynamics of TMTs. Hypotheses for the effects of these antecedents on CMO presence and CMO influence are tested using secondary data for a set of 169 firms across 9 industries for the years 2001-2002. Results show that CMO presence and influence are driven primarily by a combination of strategic and structural factors. Specifically, firms are more likely to have a CMO in the TMT when they have a corporate branding strategy and when their TMTs have relatively low proportions of executives with marketing and/or general management experience. Further, diversification makes CMO presence less likely in relatively smaller firms but more likely in relatively larger ones. Innovation drives the influence the CMO has in the TMT, while marketing and/or general management experience in the TMT reduce it. The results are of significance both to academicians and practitioners concerned with marketing’s influence at the level of corporate strategy.