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Do CEO Demographics Explain Cash Holdings in SMEs?

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  • Orens, Raf

    ()
    (Lessius (K.U.Leuven) - Department of Business Studies)

  • Reheul, Anne-Mie

    ()
    (Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel (HUB), Belgium)

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    Abstract

    This study examines the idiosyncratic manager-specific influence on a corporate cash policy. Although traditional economic theories such as trade-off theory and agency theory have already contributed to a deeper understanding of corporate cash policy, we examine whether the integration of Hambrick and Mason’s (1984) upper echelons theory (UET) into these traditional theories provides additional power in explaining corporate cash holdings. We contend that social, psychological and cognitive characteristics of CEOs, proxied by a number of CEO demographics, affect the level of importance that CEOs (and shareholders) attach to the economic arguments provided by the traditional theories, in turn affecting cash policy. We test our hypotheses using a sample of Belgian privately held SMEs. Controlling for a number of operational and financial variables, our results illustrate that CEOs have a considerable influence on corporate cash holdings. In line with most of the hypotheses our principal findings suggest that longer tenured CEOs, older CEOs and CEOs with experience in a single industry are more concerned with the precautionary motive of cash and less concerned with the opportunity cost of cash, giving rise to higher cash levels compared to shorter tenured CEOs, younger CEOs and CEOs with experiences outside the current industry. We thus reveal that cash policy in Belgian privately held SMEs reflects the natural tendencies of CEOs. Since cash policy affects shareholder value, it is important for shareholders to consider the demographics of present or new CEOs, and to understand their associated inclinations concerning cash policy.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel, Faculteit Economie en Management in its series Working Papers with number 2011/35.

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    Length: 28 page
    Date of creation: Dec 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hub:wpecon:201135

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    Web page: http://research.hubrussel.be
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    Keywords: agency theory; cash policy; SME; trade-off theory; upper echelons theory;

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