Friday, January 30, 2009

Which CEO Characteristics and Abilities Matter?

A recent paper (also see here) by Steven Kaplan, Mark Klebanov, and Morten Sorensen. Below is the abstract.

We study the characteristics and abilities of CEO candidates for companies involved in buyout (LBO) and venture capital (VC) transactions and relate them to hiring decisions, investment decisions, and company performance. Candidates are assessed on more than thirty individual abilities. The abilities are highly correlated; a factor analysis suggests there are two primary factors with intuitive characterizations -- one for general ability and one that contrasts team-related, interpersonal skills with execution skills. Both LBO and VC firms are more likely to hire and invest in CEOs with greater general abilities, both execution- and team-related. Success, however, is more strongly related to execution skills than to team-related skills. Success is, at best, only marginally related to incumbency, holding observable talent and ability constant.


From recent episodes of Bloomberg on the Economy:

Sowell Says U.S. May `Go Down the Tube' Under Obama;
Paul Krugman Sees Need to Get Stimulus Plan Out `Fast';
Luigi Zingales Opposes U.S. Bank Nationalization;
Porter Grades Obama Stimulus Plan `C-Minus'.

Become a trillionaire is not a dream

...just move to a hyperinflating nation, like Zimbabwe, since it has introduced a Z$100 trillion note, currently worth about US$30.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Samuelson on Hayek

See here.

HT to Marginal Revolution.

A theory of firm scope

Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmstrom have a new paper (also see here) recently which extends the standard property rights model by incorporating coordination activities inside the firm so that a theory of firm scope can be further explored. A large drawback of the standard GHM model and the property rights approach to the theory of the firm, as pointed out by Holmstrom (1999) among others, is that there is no real "firm" per se in the model, only "representative entrepreneurs". Hence it can only explain why individuals own assets, not why firms own assets. Although this approach provides a clear explanation of the costs and benefits of integration, it seems to describe owner-managed firms better than large scale companies.

In order to understand key organizational issues (particularly in large scale organizations), e.g., firm scope, authority, hierarchy and power delegation, we have to examine more closely to "what it (the organization) does and what is done within it". Therefore, questions like how activities are coordinated within the organization and which factors lead to the way of organization and coordination become extremely important.

The purpose of this paper is to modify the property rights approach so that it can be applied to better serve the need. We develop a model in which: (a) decision rights can be transferred ex ante through ownership, (b) managers (and possibly workers) enjoy private benefits that are non-transferable, and (c) owners can divert a firm’s profit. In our basic model decisions are ex post non-contractible; in an extension we use the idea that contracts are reference points to relax this assumption. Under these conditions, firm boundaries matter. Nonintegrated firms fail to account for the external effects that their decisions have on other firms. An integrated firm can internalize such externalities, but it does not put enough weight on the private benefits of managers and workers. We explore this tradeoff in a model that focuses on the difficulties companies face in cooperating through the market if the benefits from cooperation are unevenly divided; therefore, they may sometimes end up merging. We show that the assumption that contracts are reference points introduces a friction that permits an analysis of delegation.

Rising Stars...

See here.

Friday, January 9, 2009

What's Booming in the Recession?

Based on FT's columnist Lucy Kellaway's personal experience and investigation, the hottest recessionary activity in town nowadays is looking for relationships on adultery websites, particualrly for those males in the financial sector. "It seems the colder the market for jobs, the hotter the market for adultery."

But why is it that so many senior business people are responding to recession with adultery? John Quelch, professor of marketing at Harvard Business School suggests that "bankers are suffering from a risk deficit: their working lives have been derisked compulsorily and this could be a way of compensating by adding risk to their private lives." However, if this is true, then there would be a mass shift from taking risks in the financial market to taking risks in the domestic market, will this lead to domestic instability and a surging divorce rate?

On the other hand, the founders of adultery websites would like to argue that, by providing a well-behaved marketplace for adultery, they are actually creating domestic stability. Adultery is claimed as an alternative to divorce, not as a precursor to it.

In my opinion, the divorce rate tends to go up. The website founders' argument could not stand in the sense that if people tend to choose the alternative if it is available (Say's Law, supply creates its own demand), then it would eventually become a precursor. By providing a market for adultery, the cost of divorce is actually decreasing since people can easily find someone to "hug" in this adultery market, which implies that the "demand for divorce" would increase. However, if this is true, why would there be an organized market for adultery? Maybe the reason lies in the fact that people can never say whether their marriages are successful or not. This market, per se, just provide a way to find a more suitable lover.