Who Chooses Board Members?

Abstract

We show that companies that use search firms to find board members pay their CEOs significantly higher salaries and significantly higher total compensations. Further, companies with search firm-identified independent directors are significantly less likely to fire their CEOs following negative performance. In addition, companies with search firm-identified independent directors are significantly more likely to engage in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and see abnormally low returns from this M&A activity. We instrument the endogenous choice of using an executive search through the varying geographic distance of companies to executive search firms. Using this instrumental variable framework, we show search firm-identified independent directors’ negative impact on firm performance, consistent with firm behavior and governance consequences we document.

Publication
Advances in Financial Economics

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