June 03, 2008
Getting to the Top
Posted by Fred Tung

Ceo_top_2 Some interesting findings on CEO hirings and firings from a recent Economist piece:

1.  Importance of finance.  One-fifth of US CEOs in 2005 were formerly CFOs, almost twice the percentage from a decade prior.  Increased focus on financial reporting and SOX compliance has likely augmented the CFO's overall importance within companies.

2.  Build or buy?  Both in Europe and the US (among the FTSEurofirst 300 and the S&P 500), "lifers" make it to the executive suite more quickly on average than "hoppers," defined as those who jump through 4 or more companies.  Lifers make it in 22 (US) or 24 (EU) years on average, while hoppers take at least 26 years.  Information asymmetry probably explains this difference.

3.  Women at the top.   Eleven percent of US CEOs were women in 2001.  In the early 1980s, by contrast, there were none.

4.  Time to the top.  The average climb to the top took 28 years in 1980.  By 2001, it took only 24.  The average CEO had fewer jobs on the way up (five instead of six) and spent less time at each intermediate job (only four years) than before.

5.  Naked capitalism.  In a set of surprising (to me) results, EU capitalism appears to be a bit more rough-and-tumble than in the US, at least as regards CEO tenure.  EU CEOs have much shorter tenures than in the US and have a tougher time staying there.  They're also much less likely to be lifers in Europe (18% versus 26% in the US). Average CEO tenure over the past decade was just over 9 years in the US, but under 7 years in Europe.  European CEO firings accounted for 37% of turnover, but only 27% in the US.  European CEOs are also younger on average than in the US--54 versus 56 years of age.   

Business Organizations, Comparative Law, Corporate Governance, Finance, Globalization/Trade | Bookmark

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