IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Which CEO Characteristics and Abilities Matter?

  • Steven N. Kaplan
  • Mark M. Klebanov
  • Morten Sorensen

We study the characteristics and abilities of CEO candidates for companies involved in buyout (LBO) and venture capital (VC) transactions and relate them to hiring decisions, investment decisions, and company performance. Candidates are assessed on more than thirty individual abilities. The abilities are highly correlated; a factor analysis suggests there are two primary factors with intuitive characterizations -- one for general ability and one that contrasts team-related, interpersonal skills with execution skills. Both LBO and VC firms are more likely to hire and invest in CEOs with greater general abilities, both execution- and team-related. Success, however, is more strongly related to execution skills than to team-related skills. Success is, at best, only marginally related to incumbency, holding observable talent and ability constant.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14195.

in new window

Date of creation: Jul 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Author(s): STEVEN N. KAPLAN, MARK M. KLEBANOV, MORTEN SORENSEN Published: May 21, 2012 Pages: 973-1007 DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-6261.2012.01739.x
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14195
Note: CF
Contact details of provider: Postal:
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Kaplan, Steven & Strömberg, Per Johan, 2002. "Characteristics, Contracts and Actions: Evidence from Venture Capitalist Analyses," CEPR Discussion Papers 3243, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. James P. Guthrie, 1997. "Contextual Influences on Executive Selection: Firm Characteristics and CEO Experience," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(4), pages 537-560, 07.
  3. Kevin J. Murphy & Ján Zábojník, 2004. "CEO Pay and Appointments: A Market-Based Explanation for Recent Trends," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 192-196, May.
  4. Bennedsen, Morten & Perez-Gonzalez, Francisco & Wolfenzon, Daniel, 2007. "Do CEOs matter?," CEI Working Paper Series 2006-21, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  5. Van den Steen, Eric, 2003. "Organizational Beliefs and Managerial Vision," Working papers 4224-01, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  6. Nick Bloom & John Van Reenen, 2006. "Measuring and Explaining Management Practices Across Firms and Countries," NBER Working Papers 12216, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Xavier Gabaix & Augustin Landier, 2006. "Why Has CEO Pay Increased So Much?," 2006 Meeting Papers 518, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-64, October.
  9. Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "The Economics of Superstars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 845-58, December.
  10. Bennedsen, Morten & Pérez-González, Francisco & Wolfenzon, Daniel, 2007. "Do CEOs Matter?," Working Papers 13-2007, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Economics.
  11. Hellmann, Thomas F. & Puri, Manju, 2000. "Venture Capital and the Professionalization of Start-up Firms: Empirical Evidence," Research Papers 1661, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  12. Patrick Bolton & Markus K. Brunnermeier & Laura Veldkamp, 2008. "Leadership, Coordination and Mission-Driven Management," NBER Working Papers 14339, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Paul Gompers & Anna Kovner & Josh Lerner & David Scharfstein, 2006. "Skill vs. Luck in Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital: Evidence from Serial Entrepreneurs," NBER Working Papers 12592, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Itzhak Ben-David & John R. Graham & Campbell R. Harvey, 2007. "Managerial Overconfidence and Corporate Policies," NBER Working Papers 13711, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Marianne Bertrand & Antoinette Schoar, 2003. "Managing with Style: The Effect of Managers on Firm Policies," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1169-1208.
  16. Renée B. Adams & Heitor Almeida & Daniel Ferreira, 2005. "Powerful CEOs and Their Impact on Corporate Performance," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 18(4), pages 1403-1432.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14195. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.