NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Which CEO Characteristics and Abilities Matter?

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

NBER Working Paper No. 14195
Issued in July 2008
NBER Program(s):   CF

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.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w14195

Published: 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

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