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Three Essays on the Consequences of CEO Personality

Cameron J Borgholthaus, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The first essay provides a review of the extant literature of CEO personality. Iprovide an overview of the results produced within studies examining various traits of CEO personality. After reviewing the findings associated with the existing literature, I address ways by which CEO personality has been measured in these studies, touching on the strengths and weaknesses of each methodology. Furthermore, I synthesize all of this information to show gaps in the literature, which future scholars may consider addressing. In the second essay, I integrate the behavioral theory of the firm with upper echelons theory to theorize how a firm’s inability to attain performance levels in line with its aspirations will lead a firm’s boundedly rational managers to engage in problemistic search. While prior literature has suggested that firms may use three forms of risk taking to increase performance to acceptable levels – such as acquiring other firms, increasing R&D intensity, or expanding capital expenditures – it has heretofore been silent on which action a firm will take. I use trait activation theory to explain why extraverted CEOs are more likely to initiate problemistic search by acquiring other firms, while conscientious CEOs will favor increasing R&D intensity or capital expenditures. The third essay proposes that CEOs have the ability to influence a board’s dismissal decisions when financial analysts make recommendations to sell the firm’s stock. I incorporate upper echelons theory and the attention-based view to theorize how a CEO’s personality can evoke mood contagion during corporate board meetings, prompting directors to make more or less favorable decisions for the CEO’s ability to be retained by the firm. Specifically, I argue that because extraverted CEOs are high in positive affect, they are able to persuade the board that their ability to lead the firm in the future is great. On the contrary, neurotic CEOs experience high levels of negative affect, and will be unable to do so, as directors are adversely affected by the CEO’s negative tone.

Subject Area

Management|Business administration|Occupational psychology|Educational leadership|Labor relations

Recommended Citation

Borgholthaus, Cameron J, "Three Essays on the Consequences of CEO Personality" (2021). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI28648425.