The Impact of CEO Turnover on Firm Volatility
Matthew J. Clayton
University of Virginia - McIntire School of Commerce
Jay C. Hartzell
University of Texas at Austin - Department of Finance
Joshua V. Rosenberg
Federal Reserve Bank of New York
A change in executive leadership is a significant event in the life of a firm. This study investigates an important consequence of a CEO turnover: a change in equity volatility. We develop three hypotheses about how changes in CEO might affect stock-price volatility, and test these hypotheses using a sample of 872 CEO turnovers over the 1979 to 1995 period. We find that volatility increases following a CEO turnover, even for the most frequent type, when a CEO leaves voluntarily and is replaced by someone from inside the firm. Forced turnovers increase volatility more than voluntary turnovers, which we argue is consistent with forced departures implying a higher probability of large strategy changes. For voluntary departures, outside successions increase volatility more than inside successions, which we attribute to increased uncertainty over the successor CEO's skill in managing the firm's operations. We also document a greater stock-price response to earnings announcements following CEO turnover, consistent with more informative signals of value driving the increased volatility. Our findings are robust to controls for firm-specific characteristics such as changes in firm operations, firm size, and both volatility change and performance prior to the turnover.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 40
Keywords: Turnover, Volatility, CEO
JEL Classification: G30, G12, G14, G34
Date posted: June 10, 2000
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