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Shaped by Booms and Busts: How the Economy Impacts CEO Careers and Management Styles


  • Antoinette Schoar
  • Luo Zuo


We show that economic conditions when managers enter the labor market have long-run effects on their career paths and managerial styles. Managers who began their careers during recessions become CEOs more quickly, but at smaller firms. They also have more conservative styles, such as lower investment in capital expenditures and research and development, more cost cutting, and lower leverage and working capital needs. These recession effects appear to be largely driven by the characteristics of the CEO’s first job (recession CEOs tend to start in smaller or private firms), which suggests that the early work environment is important to the formation and selection of managers.

Suggested Citation

  • Antoinette Schoar & Luo Zuo, 2011. "Shaped by Booms and Busts: How the Economy Impacts CEO Careers and Management Styles," NBER Working Papers 17590, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17590
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kevin J. Murphy & Jan Zabojnik, 2006. "Managerial Capital and the Market for CEOs," Working Papers 1110, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
    2. Carola Frydman & Dirk Jenter, 2010. "CEO Compensation," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 75-102, December.
    3. Ulrike Malmendier & Stefan Nagel, 2011. "Depression Babies: Do Macroeconomic Experiences Affect Risk Taking?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(1), pages 373-416.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cutler, David M. & Huang, Wei & Lleras-Muney, Adriana, 2015. "When does education matter? The protective effect of education for cohorts graduating in bad times," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 63-73.
    2. Custódio, Cláudia & Metzger, Daniel, 2014. "Financial expert CEOs: CEO׳s work experience and firm׳s financial policies," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(1), pages 125-154.
    3. Benmelech, Efraim & Frydman, Carola, 2015. "Military CEOs," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(1), pages 43-59.
    4. Oriana Bandiera & Andrea Prat & Renata Lemos & Raffaella Sadun, 2013. "Managing the Family Firm: Evidence from CEOs at Work," Harvard Business School Working Papers 14-044, Harvard Business School, revised Jun 2017.
    5. Morgan, John & Sisak, Dana, 2016. "Aspiring to succeed: A model of entrepreneurship and fear of failure," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 1-21.
    6. Martin Dierker & Jung-Wook Kim & Jason Lee & Randall Morck, 2016. "Investors’ Interacting Demand and Supply Curves for Common Stocks," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 20(4), pages 1517-1547.
    7. repec:cep:stieop:49 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Maclean, Johanna Catherine & Hill, Terrence D., 2015. "Leaving school in an economic downturn and self-esteem across early and middle adulthood," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 1-12.
    9. repec:bpj:bejeap:v:17:y:2017:i:2:p:37:n:5 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Wang, Yizhong & Chen, Carl R. & Chen, Lifang & Huang, Ying Sophie, 2016. "Overinvestment, inflation uncertainty, and managerial overconfidence: Firm level analysis of Chinese corporations," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 54-69.
    11. Antoinette Schoar & Luo Zuo, 2016. "Does the Market Value CEO Styles?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(5), pages 262-266, May.
    12. Raghuram Rajan, 2012. "The Corporation in Finance," NBER Working Papers 17760, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Hillier, David & Korczak, Adriana & Korczak, Piotr, 2015. "The impact of personal attributes on corporate insider trading," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 150-167.
    14. Owan, Hideo & Takahashi, Shingo & Tsuru, Tsuyoshi & Uehara, Katsuhito, 2014. "Finding Good Managers: An Econometric Case Study of a Large Japanese Auto Dealership," Discussion Paper Series 609, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    15. Maclean, Johanna Catherine, 2013. "The health effects of leaving school in a bad economy," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 951-964.
    16. Jaskiewicz, Peter & Combs, James G. & Rau, Sabine B., 2015. "Entrepreneurial legacy: Toward a theory of how some family firms nurture transgenerational entrepreneurship," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 29-49.
    17. Chemmanur, Thomas J. & Krishnan, Karthik & Nandy, Debarshi K., 2014. "The effects of corporate spin-offs on productivity," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 72-98.
    18. repec:eee:jbvent:v:32:y:2017:i:6:p:611-626 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Jacobsen, Stacey, 2014. "The death of the deal: Are withdrawn acquisition deals informative of CEO quality?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(1), pages 54-83.
    20. Feng, Xunan & Johansson, Anders C., 2016. "Living through the Great Chinese Famine: Early-Life Experiences and Managerial Decisions," Stockholm School of Economics Asia Working Paper Series 2016-41, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm China Economic Research Institute.
    21. Mullins, William & Schoar, Antoinette, 2016. "How do CEOs see their roles? Management philosophies and styles in family and non-family firms," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 119(1), pages 24-43.
    22. Limbach, Peter & Sonnenburg, Florian, 2014. "CEO fitness and firm value," CFR Working Papers 14-12, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
    23. William Mullins & Antoinette Schoar, 2013. "How do CEOs see their Role? Management Philosophy and Styles in Family and Non-Family Firms," NBER Working Papers 19395, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • G3 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance
    • G31 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Capital Budgeting; Fixed Investment and Inventory Studies
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill

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