Attractive CEOs: Let off the Hook or Held to a Higher Standard?

47 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2020

See all articles by Brian L. Connelly

Brian L. Connelly

Auburn University

Kang Lee

Auburn University - Department of Aviation Management and Logistics

Matt Hersel

Clemson University

Jack Walker

Auburn University

Date Written: January 31, 2020

Abstract

It may be unpleasant to think that directors treat CEOs differently based on physical appearance, but this is precisely what happens. In this study, we measure CEO facial attractiveness, which sociologists have identified as an objective means to assess beauty. We develop competing arguments for how boards, following revelation of misconduct, treat CEOs differently based on their attractiveness. Using research on the halo effect, we develop arguments showing that attractiveness dampens the likelihood that a board will fire their CEO for corporate misconduct. Using expectancy violations theory, we develop competing arguments about attractiveness, suggesting that it exacerbates the likelihood that a board will fire their CEO for corporate misconduct. Findings support the latter. In the wake of misconduct, only attractive CEOs lose their job. Results show that, following misconduct, boards are far more likely to replace a CEO that scores above average on attractiveness than they are to replace a CEO whose attractiveness score is below average.

Keywords: CEO dismissal, attractiveness, board of directors, expectancy violation theory, organizational misconduct

JEL Classification: M10, M12, M51

Suggested Citation

Connelly, Brian L. and Lee, Kang and hersel, Matt and Walker, Jack, Attractive CEOs: Let off the Hook or Held to a Higher Standard? (January 31, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3529683 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3529683

Brian L. Connelly (Contact Author)

Auburn University ( email )

Auburn, AL 36849
United States
344-844-6515 (Phone)

Kang Lee

Auburn University - Department of Aviation Management and Logistics ( email )

United States

Matt Hersel

Clemson University ( email )

101 Sikes Ave
Clemson, SC 29634
United States

Jack Walker

Auburn University ( email )

415 West Magnolia Avenue
Auburn, AL 36849
United States

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