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The Effect of CEOs’ Turnover on the Corporate Sustainability Performance of French Firms

Abstract : This paper examines the relationship between turnover among chief executive officers (CEOs) and corporate sustainability performance (CSP) by identifying the influence of two major types of succession to the top job (internal or external promotion) and the reasons for change. Our model also integrates the firm’s past prioritization of CSP and the impact of a company’s participation in the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). Upper echelons theory and agency theory frameworks are adopted to understand CSP. Using an analysis of panel data for 88 public companies across 13 years in France, we find that a change of chief executive has a positive and significant effect on CSP five years after the change. This positive effect is stronger when the new CEO is recruited from outside the firm. The impact on CSP is invariably positive and significant, except for voluntary departures. The arrival of a new CEO affects CSP less when the firm has already achieved a high standard of CSP and participates in the GRI. These results are obtained after controlling CSP determinants already validated in the literature (financial performance, size, profitability, etc.). The findings show that expectations of CEOs are not solely economic and financial but also concern CSP. In terms of governance, they should prompt shareholders looking to strengthen CSP to choose new CEOs from outside the firm and to encourage the firm to participate in the GRI.
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Contributor : Yohan Bernard <>
Submitted on : Friday, May 13, 2016 - 3:54:42 PM
Last modification on : Friday, April 10, 2020 - 1:46:17 AM



Yohan Bernard, Laurence Godard, Mohamed Zouaoui. The Effect of CEOs’ Turnover on the Corporate Sustainability Performance of French Firms. Journal of Business Ethics, Springer Verlag, 2016, pp.1-21. ⟨10.1007/s10551-016-3178-7⟩. ⟨hal-01315690⟩



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