abstract Extant literature that examines the role of boards in the CEO dismissal process has focused on the impact of board composition. However, it has rarely considered the influence of sense making and interpretation on CEO dismissal. This paper draws on the strategic change literature, which demonstrates a link between cognitions and action, to develop a three-stage framework in which we articulate how sense making (stage 1) and interpretation (stage 2) impact the decision to dismiss a CEO (stage 3). More specifically, the board's perception of performance, its attributions of performance and efficacy assessment of the CEO, and the board's composition impact the decision to dismiss the CEO. The resulting model illuminates the domain of board cognitions and board composition within CEO dismissal decisions and facilitates future empirical research.