CEO Turnover, Leadership Vacuum, and Stock Market Reactions
Applied Economics, Forthcoming
39 Pages Posted: 10 May 2021
Date Written: May 1, 2021
CEO departures with a delay in successor appointment create a leadership vacuum inducing operational disruption and strategic uncertainty. Such departures also produce turnaround benefits from cutting ties with a poorly performing CEO and by allowing additional time to search for a qualified successor. Prior studies fail to disentangle these perceived costs and benefits associated with CEO dismissal. After filtering out the turnaround benefits, we find the market reacts incrementally negatively to CEO departure announcements with a delay in successor appointment than those without such delay, capturing incremental switching costs caused by a leadership vacuum. We also find that the leadership vacuum cost is larger in a more volatile environment or with abandonment of a relay succession plan. Our findings contribute to CEO turnover literature by suggesting that a temporary leadership vacuum is an indicator of abandonment of a succession plan that has been influenced by a poorly performing CEO and that such abandonment creates an opportunity to achieve performance turnaround through a better successor.
Keywords: CEO turnover, interim CEO, leadership vacuum, turnaround benefit, switching cost, stock market reaction
JEL Classification: G14, G30, G34, M12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation