The term "top management" refers to a relatively small group of people include president, chief executive officer, vice president, and executive vice president. Because the insights of these executives play such a critical role, a number of writers have stressed the importance of matching the characteristics of these executives with the firm's strategies.
The strategic management process of today tends to be dominated by the chief executive officer (CEO). For example, Kenneth R. Andrews described the chief executive's role as "Chief Executive as Architect of Purpose."
George Steiner summarized the role of the CEO in strategic management as follows:
- The CEO must understand that strategic management is his responsibility. Parts of this task, but certainly not all of it, can be delegated.
- The CEO is responsible for establishing a climate in the organization that is congenial to strategic management.
- The CEO is responsible for ensuring that the design of the process is appropriate to the unique characteristics of the company.
- The CEO is responsible for determining whether there should be a corporate planner. If so, the CEO generally should appoint the planner (or planners) and see that the office is located as close to that of the CEO as practical.
- The CEO must get involved in doing planning.
- The CEO should have face-to-face meetings with executives for making plans and should ensure that there is a proper evaluation of the plans and feedback to those making them.
- The CEO is responsible for reporting the results of the strategic management process to the board of directors.
The chief executive officer (CEO) is responsible for the final decisions, but its decisions is the culmination of the ideas, information, and analyses of others.