Measuring R&D curtailment among short-horizon CEOs
I review evidence produced by prior literature on CEO horizon problems and show that prior empirical findings are correlated with the research design employed. I find that evidence of R&D curtailment by CEOs as they approach retirement stems predominantly from cross-sectional correlations between CEO age or tenure and R&D spending. Using a broad sample of CEOs of S&P 1500 firms, I identify two factors that confound the cross-sectional relationship of firm R&D spending on CEO age or tenure which can lead to spurious inferences regarding the CEO horizon problem. I find that tracking R&D spending by the same CEOs over time produces no evidence of R&D curtailment. These results have research design implications for future researchers investigating the impact of shortened CEO career horizons on investment myopia.
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