Sudden Death of a CEO: Are Companies Prepared When Lightening Strikes?
5 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2012 Last revised: 3 Sep 2013
Date Written: March 6, 2012
It is very difficult for shareholders to know detailed information about CEO succession planning among the companies they have invested in. Although CEO deaths are rare, the sudden death of a CEO can provide insight into the quality of succession planning and governance of a company. Whereas some companies are able to appoint a successor immediately, others take weeks or months to do so.
In this Closer Look, we examine this issue in detail. We ask:
* Why haven’t more companies done a “reality check” on whether they have a truly operational succession plan? * What can a board learn and what should it do if the market reacts positively to the death of its CEO? * Should the board revise its succession plan if its CEO engages in risky h
Topics, Issues and Controversies in Corporate Governance and Leadership: The Closer Look series is a collection of short case studies through which we explore topics, issues, and controversies in corporate governance. In each study, we take a targeted look at a specific issue that is relevant to the current debate on governance and explain why it is so important. Larcker and Tayan are co-authors of the book Corporate Governance Matters, and A Real Look at Real World Corporate Governance.
Keywords: CEO succession, succession planning, corporate governance
JEL Classification: G30, G34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation