Spooky CEO Research
| Nicolai Foss |
Research on corporate governance and the importance to value creation of CEOs is becoming increasingly morbid. Check out the abstract of a recent paper by CBS colleague Morten Bennedsen (as the paper doesn’t seem to be online, you will have to write Morten for a copy; firstname.lastname@example.org):
Estimating the value of top managerial talent is a central topic of research that has attracted widespread attention from academics and practitioners. Yet, studying the impact of managers on firm performance is difficult because of endogeneity and omitted variables concerns. In this paper, we test for the impact of managers on firm performance in two ways. First, we examine whether top executive deaths have an impact on firm performance, focusing on the manager and firm characteristics that are associated to large manager-death effects. Second, we test for the interaction between the personal and professional activities of managers by examining the effect of deaths of immediate family members (spouses, parents, children, etc) on firm performance. Our main findings are three. First, CEO deaths are strongly correlated with declines in firms operating profitability, asset growth and sales growth. Second, the death of board members does not seem to affect firm prospects, indicating that not all senior managers are equally important for firms’ outcomes. Third, CEOs’ immediate family deaths are significantly negatively correlated to firm performance. This last result suggests a strong link between the personal and business roles that top management plays, a connection that is present even in large firms. Overall, our findings demonstrate CEOs are extremely important for firms’ prospects.