In order to assess the current usage of succession management programs in Australian-based organizations, and gain information on the characteristics and perceived effectiveness of such programs, a national research study was undertaken. A total of 711 human resource management professionals from a range of organizations across the country answered the questionnaire, a response rate of 59 percent. Succession management programs were present in less than half of the respondent's organizations. Furthermore, these programs were generally less than five years old. The prime imperatives for introducing succession management programs were reported as the desire to improve business results, and the need for new skill requirements in the business. A relationship between organization size, industry and type and the likelihood to use succession management was found. Common perceptions concerning the characteristics of effective succession management programs were also identified and are described in the paper. In brief, these are: high level involvement by the chief executive officer; senior management support; line management involvement in identifying candidates; developmental assignments as part of the process; and succession management linked to business strategies.