The impact of CEO attributes on corporate decision-making and outcomes: a review and an agenda for future research

Christiana Osei bonsu, Chelsea Liu, Alfred Yawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose
The role of chief executive officer (CEO) personal characteristics in shaping corporate policies has attracted increasing academic attention in the past two decades. In this review, the authors synthesize extant research on CEO attributes by reviewing 232 articles published in 29 journals from the accounting, finance and management literature. This review provides an overview of existing findings, highlights current trends and interdisciplinary differences in research approaches and identifies potential avenues for future research.

Design/methodology/approach

To review the literature on CEO attributes, the authors manually collected peer-reviewed articles in accounting, finance and management journals from 2000 to 2021. The authors conducted in-depth analysis of each paper and manually recorded the theories, data sources, country of study, study period, measures of CEO attributes and dependent variables. This procedure helped the authors group the selected articles into themes and sub-themes. The authors compared the findings in various disciplines and provided direction for future research.

Findings
The authors highlight the role of CEO personal attributes in influencing corporate decision-making and firm outcomes. The authors categorize studies of CEO traits into three main research themes: (1) demographic attributes and experience (including age, gender, culture, experience, education); (2) CEO interactions with others (social and political networks) and (3) underlying attributes (including personality, values and ideology). The evidence shows that CEO characteristics significantly affect a wide range of specific corporate policies that serve as mechanisms through which individual CEOs determine firm success and performance.

Practical implications
CEO selection is one of the most crucial decisions made by corporations. The study findings provide valuable insights to corporate executives, boards, investors and practitioners into how CEOs’ personal characteristics can impact future firm decisions and outcomes that can, in turn, inform the high-stake process of CEO recruitment and selection. The study findings have significant practical implications for corporations, such as contributing to executive training programs, to assist executives and directors attain a greater level of self-awareness.

Originality/value
Building on the theoretical foundation of upper echelons theory, the authors offer an integrated theoretical framework to consolidate existing empirical research on the impacts of CEO personal attributes on firm outcomes across accounting and finance (A&F) and management literature. The study findings provide a roadmap for scholars to bridge the interdisciplinary divide between A&F and management research. The authors advocate a more holistic and multifaceted approach to examining CEOs, each of whom embodies a myriad of personal characteristics that comprise their unique identity. The study findings encourage future researchers to expand the investigation of the boundary conditions that magnify or moderate the impacts of CEO idiosyncrasies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Managerial Finance
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2023

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