Hire from outside, or promote from inside?

I know the following comment (from RetailWire) somewhat contradicts my earlier post about a new head of Apple Store. But it’s my blog so I’m entitled! My real point: It depends on the situation, the company and the skill set being sought:

The debate between “promoting from within” and “hiring from outside” goes back for many years. A healty outcome involves both approaches: Insiders are likely to have a better understanding of the company culture and legacy (especially if it’s successful) and their promotion gives other insiders a clearer sense of a career path in the organization. On the other hand, outsiders are likely to bring a fresh perspective and new “best practices” to an organization, especially (in the case of JCPenney, for example) if the company needs to be shaken up.

Perhaps the more important debate is the nature of the outside hires’ backgrounds. As the article suggests, it may be less important to bring traditional retail expertise to another retailer and more important (especially at the CEO level) to have supply chain, marketing or IT experience. The smart CEO will ensure that the direct reports running stores and merchandising have the knowledge base that he or she may lack.

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