Acquisitions, Overconfident Managers and Self-Attribution Bias

51 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2006

See all articles by John A. Doukas

John A. Doukas

Old Dominion University - Strome College of Business

Dimitris Petmezas

University of Surrey - Surrey Business School

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We examine whether acquisitions by overconfident managers generate superior abnormal returns and whether managerial overconfidence stems from self-attribution. Self-attribution bias suggests that overconfidence plays a greater role in higher order acquisition deals predicting lower wealth effects for higher order acquisition deals. Using two alternative measures of overconfidence (1) high order acquisition deals and (2) insider dealings we find evidence supporting the view that average stock returns are related to managerial overconfidence. Overconfident bidders realize lower announcement returns than rational bidders and exhibit poor long-term performance. Second, we find that managerial overconfidence stems from self-attribution bias. Specifically, we find that high-order acquisitions (five or more deals within a three-year period) are associated with lower wealth effects than low-order acquisitions (first deals). That is, managers tend to credit the initial success to their own ability and therefore become overconfident and engage in more deals. In our analysis we control for endogeneity of the decision to engage in high-order acquisitions and find evidence that does not support the self-selection of excessive acquisitive firms. Our analysis is robust to the influence of merger waves, industry shocks, and macroeconomic conditions.

Keywords: Managerial Overconfidence, Self-Attribution Bias, Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate Governance, Short-term and Long-term Performance.

JEL Classification: G14, G30, G34

Suggested Citation

Doukas, John A. and Petmezas, Dimitris, Acquisitions, Overconfident Managers and Self-Attribution Bias. European Financial Management Journal, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

John A. Doukas

Old Dominion University - Strome College of Business ( email )

2080 Constant Hall
Suite 2080
Norfolk, VA 23529-0222
United States
757-683-5521 (Phone)


Dimitris Petmezas (Contact Author)

University of Surrey - Surrey Business School ( email )

Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH
United Kingdom

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