Discussion paper

DP16281 The Market for CEOs

We study the market for CEOs of large publicly-traded US firms, analyze new CEOs’ prior connections to the hiring firm, and explore how hiring choices are determined. Firms are hiring from a surprisingly small pool of candidates. More than 80% of new CEOs are insiders, defined as current or former employees or board members. Boards are already familiar with more than 90% of new CEOs, as they are either insiders or executives who directors have previously worked with. There are few reallocations of CEOs across firms - firms raid CEOs of other firms in only 3% of cases. Pay differences appear too small to explain these hiring choices. The evidence suggests that firm-specific human capital, asymmetric information, and other frictions have first-order effects on the assignment of CEOs to firms.


Cziraki, P and D Jenter (2021), ‘DP16281 The Market for CEOs‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 16281. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp16281