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The Influence of German Top Executives on Corporate Policy and Firm Performance

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Marcel Normann

The question of whether strategic leaders really matter is important to a wide array of topics. Three essays contribute to empirical top executive research on the relative importance of German CEOs and CFOs. The analyses are based on a unique dataset that includes observations from more than 300 CEOs and 100 CFOs working for 110 publicly listed German firms that operated in 10 different industries between 1983 and 2002. The first essay describes and analyzes characteristics of top executives. The second essay examines the existence and size of top executive-specific effects as well as industry-, company- and executive-level moderating factors. The third essay sheds light on the circumstances under which CEOs and CFOs matter the most (or least).

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Table of Figures ........................................................................................ 9 1. Motivation, positioning, and outline .................................................... 11 2. Essay 1: Top Executives made in Germany ......................................... 17 2.1 Governance system and top executives in Germany: Legal perspective ........................................................................... 17 2.2 German Governance system and top executives in corporate practice ...................................................................... 20 2.3 Preliminary assessment based on legal and practical perspective ..................................................................................... 24 2.4 The image of German top executives in the literature .................. 24 2.5 Empirical examination of German top executives attributes from 1983 to 2002 .......................................................... 27 3. Essay 2: Executive-specific Effects on Performance and Policy ......... 43 3.1 Top executives in the literature: deterministic, voluntaristic, and integrative models ................................................................... 43 3.2 Top executives in the literature: empirical evidence ..................... 50 3.3 Syntheses and hypotheses .............................................................. 56 3.4 General impact of German top executives on performance and policy ....................................................................................... 58 3.5 Magnitude of top executive-specific effects .................................. 74 3.6 Impact of industry-, firm-, and executive-level characteristics on top executive-specific effects ............................ 77 4. Essay 3: Managerial discretion of German CEOs and CFOs .............. 89 4.1 Theory ............................................................................................ 89 4.2 Framework and hypotheses ............................................................ 90 4.3 Data and analysis ........................................................................... 95 4.4 Results ............................................................................................ 101 85. Summary and concluding thoughts ..................................................... 111 5.1 Summary ........................................................................................ 111 5.2 Concluding thoughts ...................................................................... 113 6. Acknowledgements .............................................................................. 117 7. Appendix .............................................................................................. 119 7.1 Essay 1: Definition of Variables ..................................................... 119 7.2 Essay 2: Definition of Variables ..................................................... 122 8. References ............................................................................................ 125

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