CEO Power and Firm Performance under Pressure


Are powerful chief executive officers (CEOs) more effective in responding to pressure from the economic environment? Concentrating decision-making power may facilitate rapid decision making; however, the quality of decision making may be compromised, with severe consequences for the firm if a powerful CEO is less likely to receive independent advice or to have her decisions scrutinized. We empirically investigate the performance of firms with powerful CEOs when industry conditions deteriorate. We focus on industry downturns as these represent an exogenous shock to a firm's environment and on settings in which CEO power and access to quality information is likely more consequential: innovative firms, firms with relatively little related-industry board expertise, firms operating in competitive industries, and firms operating in industries characterized by relatively greater managerial discretion. In each of these settings we find powerful CEOs perform significantly worse than other CEOs, suggesting contexts in which centralized decision making is potentially of greater concern.

Publication Title

Financial Management