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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 1: Fields of study of German top executives (in %, partly own calculations) ................................................ 26 Table 2: Origin and educational background of German executives, 1983–2002 ............................................................................... 29 Table 3: Career path of German top executives, 1983–2002 ................ 30 Table 4: Changes in social origin and religion of German top executives, 1983–2002 ...................................................... 33 Table 5: Changes in education of German top executives, 1983–2002 ............................................................................... 34 Table 6: Changes in career areas of German top executives, 1983–2002 ............................................................................... 36 Table 7: Changes in career areas of German top executives, 1983–2002 ............................................................................... 38 Table 8: Review of selected variance decomposition studies ............... 51 Table 9: Descriptive statistics ................................................................ 60 Table 10: Executive effects on company performance ........................... 65 Table 11: Executive effects on investment policy ................................... 67 Table 12: Executive effects on financing policy ...................................... 68 Table 13: Executive effects on general financing policy ......................... 70 Table 14: Executive effects on growth policy ......................................... 71 Table 15: Executive effects on efficiency policy ..................................... 73 Table 16: Distribution of top executive-fixed effects .............................. 76 Table 17: Executive effects on company performance, 1983–1992 and 1993–2002 ...................................................... 80 Table 18: Executive effects on company performance, various industries .................................................................... 82 Table 19: Impact of industry- / company-level factors on top executive-fixed effects ............................................................. 85 Table 20: Impact of executive characteristics on top executive-fixed effects ...................................................................................... 87 Table 21: Conceptual framework ............................................................ 91 Table 22: Variable definitions and descriptive statistics ......................... 97 10 Table 23: CEO and CFO influences on firm performance ...................... 101 Table 24: CEO and CFO influences on transactional policies ................ 103 Table 25: CEO and CFO influences on...

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