Interim Executive & Transition Research Overview
Since the 1980s, a cadre of interim executives has evolved, first in the UK and The Netherlands, and then in the US. These individuals have made careers of offering their executive services on a temporary basis to organizations experiencing a leadership vacancy. Boards of directors appoint professional interims for a number of reasons: strategy, governance, staffing, or finance; operational oversight; merger; or lack of appropriate or desirable internal staffing (Bruns & Kabst, 2005; Gibelman & Gelman, 2002; Inkson, Heising, & Rousseau, 2001; Santora & Sarros, 2008).
Interim management is a relatively new and distinct field with little empirical research. The majority of what has been published has been written largely by practitioners describing their first-hand experiences or opinions. Thus research-based, peer-reviewed empirical studies will help to develop the field.
This study focused on 25 nonprofit leadership successions temporarily filled by external interim executives. It explored the interim executives’ roles and actions to ascertain what circumstances are likely to influence how well (or not) an external interim executive serves a nonprofit during a leadership transition. The study describes the characteristics of the interim executives and their engagements, sheds light on critical relationships, and provides insight into the in-transition organizations’ executive histories and executive search processes. The results augment and synthesize relevant research, contribute to the academic literature on interim management, and provide invaluable insights for nonprofit organizations facing leadership transitions.
Interim executive researcher Katherine Farquhar, PhD, said, “Jackie’s work stands out for her careful research of the literature, in which she provides value-added critiques of previous work and recognizes where she can build on what these researchers started….” She “positions herself squarely within the thicket of those who have done research on: transitions, various forms of short-term leadership, executive roles, governing board decision-making, and the actual job of being a short-term executive. She adds an emphasis on relationships that was lacking in most previous work. She proceeds to define her arena (external interim executive leadership in nonprofits) and make an original contribution to the literature.”
About the Researcher
Jackie Eder-Van Hook, PhD is an organization development consultant, and president and co-founder of Transition Management Consulting, Inc. (TMC), a national interim executive and transition management firm serving associations and nonprofits nationwide. Previously, Jackie led a number of organizations as a long-term and interim executive. Her affinity for transition work began in 1997 when she proposed creating a cadre of interim leaders and transition consultants as part of the federal executive service corps. For information about this summary or the author, please contact Jackie Eder-Van Hook.
About the Reviewer
Katherine Farquhar, PhD is an Associate Professor of Public Administration at American University and former director of the globally acclaimed AU/NTL Master of Science in Organization Development (MSOD).
Eder-Van Hook, J. L. (2013). External interim executives: A model for nonprofit leadership succession.
(Doctoral dissertation). Fielding Graduate University, Santa Barbara, CA.