Which CEO Characteristics and Abilities Matter?
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.
We thank Geoff Smart and Randy Street of ghSMART & Company for providing the data and for very helpful discussions and comments. We thank David Altman, Carola Frydman, Malcolm Baker, Mike Jensen, Leslie Pratch, David Yermack and seminar participants at the 2008 AFA Meetings, Duke, Harvard Business School and Economics Department, NBER Corporate Finance, NBER Private Equity Conference, NBER Summer Institute, SIFR Conference 2007, and Wharton for helpful comments. We thank Xu Da, Sol Garger, Cristina Iftimie, Ingrid Tang, Phoebe Tse, and Jaclyn Yamada for research assistance. This research has been supported by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the Olin Foundation through grants to the Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State, the Center for Research in Security Prices, the Kauffman Foundation, and Kathryn Gould. Address correspondence to Steve Kaplan or Morten Sorensen, University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, 5807 South Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637 or e-mail at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
- Success and performance are more strongly correlated with execution-type skills than with interpersonal and team-related skills. In...
STEVEN N. KAPLAN & MARK M. KLEBANOV & MORTEN SORENSEN, 2012. "Which CEO Characteristics and Abilities Matter?," The Journal of Finance, vol 67(3), pages 973-1007.