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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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5 Summary and concluding thought

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s 5.1 Summary In a long-standing debate, strategists have raised the questions of whether strategic leaders matter, whether some strategic leaders matter more than others, and whether some circumstances provide strategic leaders greater latitude of action than others, increasing strategic leaders’ impacts on organi- zational outcomes. The discussions have mainly taken place in the United States and lead to the conclusion that the CEO is usually the most important leader in US firms (Crossland and Hambrick, 2007). Strong differences in corporate governance between the US and Germany make the simple transfer of these findings appear doubtful. Consequently, the three essays in this dis- sertation aimed to improve the understanding of the relative importance of German CEOs and CFOs with respect to corporate policies and firm perfor- mance 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. In the first essay, the empirical examination of characteristics and experi- ences of 179 German management board chairmen of 80 large publicly listed non-financial companies showed that German top executives are not a homo- geneous group, but differ in their characteristics and experiences. Moreover, an analysis of different time periods reveals that today’s executives differ significantly from those of earlier periods and suggests that the beginning of the 1990s was a transition period for top executives. Overall, the results are consistent with faster access to influential positions and increased career...

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