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Leadership Structure and Corporate Governance in Switzerland


  • Markus M. Schmid
  • Heinz Zimmermann


The question of whether the CEO should also serve as chairman of the board continues to be a controversial issue in corporate governance. While “agency cost” arguments would lead one to advocate separation of the top decision‐making and control functions, there are efficiency and coordination arguments for vesting the powers of the CEO and chair in the same person. And helping to keep the controversy alive, the empirical evidence on U.S. companies is inconclusive, with no clear loss of value associated with having combined CEO/chairmen. The authors use their recent research on Swiss companies, for which separation of the CEO and chair has long been the rule, to shed light on whether one leadership structure clearly dominates. But like most previous studies of U.S. companies, the authors report no evidence of a systematic difference in valuation between companies with combined and those with dual leadership. The authors also investigated whether companies with CEO‐chairmen use other governance mechanisms to counteract potential agency problems associated with giving the CEO effective control. Consistent with this hypothesis, the authors report that CEO/chairmen tend to have larger percentage ownership than CEOs who are not chairmen, but at the same time they find that the value of the firm appears to rise with increases in CEO equity holdings up to a certain point—around 40–50%— and then declines with further increases above that point. The suggestion here is that the potential for agency costs associated with combining the two leadership functions appears to be managed by providing larger—though not too large—equity incentives for CEO/chairmen. Finally, the authors investigated whether firm value is significantly related to firm‐level corporate governance as measured by a broad survey‐based index for a representative sample of Swiss firms. The results show a positive and significant relationship between the governance index and firm value—one that proves robust after controlling for a series of other governance mechanisms related to ownership structure and board characteristics as well as the possible “endogeneity” of these mechanisms.

Suggested Citation

  • Markus M. Schmid & Heinz Zimmermann, 2008. "Leadership Structure and Corporate Governance in Switzerland," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 20(1), pages 109-120, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jacrfn:v:20:y:2008:i:1:p:109-120
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-6622.2008.00173.x

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    Cited by:

    1. A. A. Drakos & F. V. Bekiris, 2010. "Endogeneity and the relationship between board structure and firm performance: a simultaneous equation analysis for the Athens Stock Exchange," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(6), pages 387-401.
    2. Nidhi Bansal & Anil K. Sharma, 2016. "Audit Committee, Corporate Governance and Firm Performance: Empirical Evidence from India," International Journal of Economics and Finance, Canadian Center of Science and Education, vol. 8(3), pages 103-116, March.
    3. Volonté, Christophe, 2015. "Boards: Independent and committed directors?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 25-37.
    4. Aebi, Vincent & Sabato, Gabriele & Schmid, Markus, 2012. "Risk management, corporate governance, and bank performance in the financial crisis," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 3213-3226.
    5. Markus Schmid, 2009. "Ownership structure and the separation of voting and cash flow rights-evidence from Switzerland," Applied Financial Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(18), pages 1453-1476.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance
    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation


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