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Do CEOs Matter?

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Author Info

  • Bennedsen, Morten

    (Department of Economics, Copenhagen Business School)

  • Pérez-González, Francisco

    (Department of Economics, Copenhagen Business School)

  • Wolfenzon, Daniel

    (Department of Economics, Copenhagen Business School)

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    Abstract

    Abstract. Estimating the value of top managerial talent is a central topic of research that has attracted widespread attention from academics and practitioners. Yet, testing for the importance of chief executive officers (CEOs) on firm outcomes is challenging. In this paper we test for the impact of CEOs on performance by assessing the effect of (1) CEO deaths and (2) the death of CEOs immediate family members (spouse, parents, children, etc), which arguably affects CEOs focus. Using a unique dataset from Denmark, we find that CEO (but not board members ) own and family deaths are strongly correlated with declines in firm operating profitability, investment and sales growth. Our CEO shock-outcome analysis allows us to identify the shocks that are the most (least) meaningful for CEOs: the death of children and spouses (mothers-in-law). We show that individual CEO, firm and industry characteristics seem to affect the impact of these shocks. In particular, CEO effects are larger (lower) for longer-tenured (older) CEOs and for those managers with large investment fixed effects. CEO shocks are relevant across the size distribution of firms but are concentrated on those firms that invested heavily in the past. Lastly, we find that CEO shocks tend to be larger in rapid growth, high investment and R&D intensive industries. Overall, our findings demonstrate managers are a key determinant of firm performance.

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    File URL: http://openarchive.cbs.dk/cbsweb/handle/10398/7523
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Copenhagen Business School, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 13-2007.

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    Length: 40 pages
    Date of creation: 01 Jan 2007
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hhs:cbsnow:2007_013

    Contact details of provider:
    Postal: Department of Economics, Copenhagen Business School, Solbjerg Plads 3 C, 5. sal, DK-2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark
    Phone: 38 15 25 75
    Fax: 38 15 34 99
    Email:
    Web page: http://www.cbs.dk/departments/econ/
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    Related research

    Keywords: na;

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    Citations

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    Cited by:
    1. Steven N. Kaplan & Mark M. Klebanov & Morten Sorensen, 2008. "Which CEO Characteristics and Abilities Matter?," NBER Working Papers 14195, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Goodall, Amanda H., 2009. "Highly cited leaders and the performance of research universities," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 1079-1092, September.
    3. Nguyen, Bang Dang & Nielsen, Kasper Meisner, 2010. "The value of independent directors: Evidence from sudden deaths," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(3), pages 550-567, December.
    4. Bernile, Gennaro & Jarrell, Gregg A., 2009. "The impact of the options backdating scandal on shareholders," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1-2), pages 2-26, March.
    5. Alex Edmans & Xavier Gabaix & Augustin Landier, 2007. "A Calibratable Model of Optimal CEO Incentives in Market Equilibrium," NBER Working Papers 13372, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. von Lilienfeld-Toal, Ulf & Ruenzi, Stefan, 2006. "Why managers hold shares of their firm: An empirical analysis," CFR Working Papers 06-11, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
    7. Lustig, Hanno & Syverson, Chad & Van Nieuwerburgh, Stijn, 2011. "Technological change and the growing inequality in managerial compensation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(3), pages 601-627, March.
    8. Gürerk, Özgür & Irlenbusch, Bernd & Rockenbach, Bettina, 2009. "Motivating teammates: The leader's choice between positive and negative incentives," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 591-607, August.

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