We investigate the relationship between CEO centrality -- the relative importance of the CEO within the top executive team in terms of ability, contribution, or power -- and the value and behavior of public firms. Our proxy for CEO centrality is the fraction of the top-five compensation captured by the CEO. We find that CEO centrality is negatively associated with firm value (as measured by industry-adjusted Tobin's Q). Greater CEO centrality is also correlated with (i) lower (industry-adjusted) accounting profitability, (ii) lower stock returns accompanying acquisitions announced by the firm and higher likelihood of a negative stock return accompanying such announcements, (iii) higher odds of the CEO’s receiving a “lucky” option grant at the lowest price of the month, (iv) greater tendency to reward the CEO for luck in the form of positive industry-wide shocks, (v) lower likelihood of CEO turnover controlling for performance, and (vi) lower firm-specific variability of stock returns over time. Overall, our results indicate that differences in CEO centrality are an aspect of firm management and governance that deserves the attention of researchers.
Published: The CEO Pay Slice (with Martijn Cremers and Urs Peyer) 102 Journal of Financial Economics 199-221(2011) Harvard Law School Olin Discussion Paper No. 679, September 2010.