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Lucian A. Bebchuk, Martijn Cremers & Urs Peyer, CEO Centrality (NBER Working Paper No. 13701, Dec. 2007).

Abstract: We investigate the relationship between CEO centrality -- the relative importance of the CEO within the top executive team in terms of ability, contribution, or power -- and the value and behavior of public firms. Our proxy for CEO centrality is the fraction of the top-five compensation captured by the CEO. We find that CEO centrality is negatively associated with firm value (as measured by industry-adjusted Tobin's Q). Greater CEO centrality is also correlated with (i) lower (industry-adjusted) accounting profitability, (ii) lower stock returns accompanying acquisitions announced by the firm and higher likelihood of a negative stock return accompanying such announcements, (iii) higher odds of the CEO's receiving a "lucky" option grant at the lowest price of the month, (iv) greater tendency to reward the CEO for luck in the form of positive industry-wide shocks, (v) lower likelihood of CEO turnover controlling for performance, and (vi) lower firm-specific variability of stock returns over time. Overall, our results indicate that differences in CEO centrality are an aspect of firm management and governance that deserves the attention of researchers.