Zombie Board: Board Tenure and Firm Performance
Journal of Accounting Research, Vol. 56, No. 4, 2018
Posted: 6 Oct 2018
Date Written: September 1, 2018
We show that board tenure exhibits an inverted U‐shaped relation with firm value and accounting performance. The quality of corporate decisions, such as M&A, financial reporting quality, and CEO compensation, also has a quadratic relation with board tenure. Our results are consistent with the interpretation that directors’ on‐the‐job learning improves firm value up to a threshold, at which point entrenchment dominates and firm performance suffers. To address endogeneity concerns, we use a sample of firms in which an outside director suffered a sudden death, and find that sudden deaths that move board tenure away from (toward) the empirically observed optimum level in the cross‐section are associated with negative (positive) announcement returns. The quality of corporate decisions also follows an inverted U‐shaped pattern in a sample of firms affected by the death of a director.
Keywords: board tenure; ﬁrm value; corporate policies; learning; entrenchment
JEL Classification: G30; G32; G34; G38; J33; J44; M41
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