Are CEOs Different?

Steven N. Kaplan*, Morten Sørensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Using 2,603 executive assessments, we study how CEO candidates differ from candidates for other top management positions, particularly CFOs. More than half of the variation in the 30 assessed characteristics is explained by four factors that we interpret as general ability, execution (vs. interpersonal), charisma (vs. analytical), and strategic (vs. managerial). CEO candidates have more extreme factor scores that differ significantly from those of CFO candidates. Conditional on being considered, candidates with greater general ability and interpersonal skills are more likely to be hired. These and our previous results on CEO success suggest that boards overweight interpersonal skills in hiring CEOs.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Finance
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1773-1811
Number of pages39
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Published online: 09 March 2021

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