Monitoring Managers: Does it Matter?
61 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2013
Date Written: December 2011
We document how gathering ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ information helps boards of directors to learn a CEO’s ability over time; test under what circumstances boards fire CEOs; and show that such interventions lead to improved firm performance. Our empirical design exploits detailed hard information about performance relative to pre-agreed, firm-level targets and soft information reflecting the board’s views of CEO actions, CEO decisions, and CEO competence coupled with plausibly exogenous variation due to the staggered adoption of corporate governance laws in formerly Communist countries between 1993 and 2010. We find that CEOs are fired when a firm underperforms its targets and, especially, when evidence has mounted that they are incompetent, but not when poor performance reflects factors deemed explicitly to be beyond their control or for making ‘honest mistakes.’ The level of CEO turnover increases following corporate governance reforms that increase board power, as does the sensitivity of CEO turnover to soft information relative to that of hard information. Following forced CEO turnover, firms see performance improvements and their investors are considerably more likely to eventually sell them at a profit.
Keywords: Corporate governance, large shareholders, boards of directors, active monitoring, CEO turnover, legal reforms, transition economies, private equity
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