Abstract

To navigate digital transformation successfully, firms in many industries are starting to implement a new executive position of a Chief Digital Officer (CDO). Despite the growing interest of scholars in the CDO position, existing research on this topic has failed to examine, which impact the characteristics of the CDO could have on the digital transformation activities of a firm. Relying on upper echelons theory, we argue that whereas the task of all CDOs is to promote digital transformation of a firm, some CDOs will pursue more digital transformation activities than others based on their education, functional tracks, and career experiences. Additionally, we investigate whether the strength of the relationship between the CDO’s characteristics and the amount of digital transformation activities is dependent on the industry’s digitalization degree. To test our hypotheses, we use a sample of the largest German firms between 2011 and 2019. Our study aims at both extending research on the CDO and upper echelons and integrating them. We further aim at providing recommendations to practitioners on whether they should appoint a certain type of the CDO based on their industry and the intended digital transformation intensity.

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