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CEO Investment Cycles


  • Pan, Yihui

    (University of UT)

  • Wang, Tracy Yue

    (University of MN, Twin Cities)

  • Weisbach, Michael S.

    (OH State University)


This paper documents the existence of a CEO Investment Cycle, in which firms disinvest early in a CEO's tenure and increase investment subsequently, leading to "cyclical" firm growth in assets as well as in employment over CEO tenure. The CEO investment cycle occurs for both firings and non-performance related CEO turnovers, and for CEOs with different relationships with the firm prior to becoming CEO. The magnitude of the CEO cycle is substantial: The estimated difference in investment rate between the first three years of a CEO's tenure and subsequent years is approximately 6 to 8 percentage points, which is of the same order of magnitude as the differences caused by other factors known to affect investment, such as business cycles or financial constraints. We present a variety of tests suggesting that this investment cycle is best explained by a combination of agency-based theories: Early in his tenure the CEO disinvests poorly performing assets that his predecessor established and was unwilling to give up on. Subsequently, the CEO overinvests when he gains more control over his board. There is no evidence that the investment cycles occur because of shifting CEO skill or productivity shocks. Overall, the results imply that public corporations' investments deviate substantially from the first-best, and that governance-related factors internal to the firm are as important as economy-wide factors in explaining firms' investments.

Suggested Citation

  • Pan, Yihui & Wang, Tracy Yue & Weisbach, Michael S., 2013. "CEO Investment Cycles," Working Paper Series 2013-12, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:ohidic:2013-12

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Limbach, Peter & Schmid, Markus & Scholz, Meik, 2015. "Do CEOs Matter? Corporate Performance and the CEO Life Cycle," Working Papers on Finance 1511, University of St. Gallen, School of Finance, revised Apr 2016.
    2. Cziraki, Peter & Xu, Moqi, 2014. "CEO job security and risk-taking," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 55909, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. repec:eee:corfin:v:47:y:2017:i:c:p:88-109 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Ang, James & de Jong, Abe & van der Poel, Marieke, 2014. "Does familiarity with business segments affect CEOs' divestment decisions?," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 58-74.

    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
    • M12 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Personnel Management; Executives; Executive Compensation
    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions

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