Original Paper

Review of Managerial Science

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 191-221

First online:

The influence of top management corporate networks on CEO succession

  • Benjamin BalsmeierAffiliated withMonopolies Commission/Institute for Organisational Economics, University of Muenster
  • , Achim BuchwaldAffiliated withMonopolies Commission/Institute for Organisational Economics, University of Muenster Email author 
  • , Stefan ZimmermannAffiliated withDepartment of Business and Economics, University of Wuerzburg

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We analyze empirically how supervisory board members with multiple directorships affect the decision to hire an inside or outside CEO successor. While a growing number of both theoretical and empirical studies analyze the influence of corporate performance and size or the ownership structure on this decision, the role of multiple board memberships within the CEO recruitment process has been widely neglected so far. The present study is based on panel data of the largest German companies covering the period from 1996 to 2008. Applying competing risk estimations we find a weak and positive association between the number of external directorships of the supervisory board members and internal CEO replacements. Distinguishing between different groups of external board positions, we find that external executives on the supervisory board increase the likelihood of external CEO replacements. In line with empirical findings for the US we argue that external executives improve the assessment of potential CEO successors leading to more outside CEO replacements. In contrast, we find evidence that external supervisory board mandates of the supervisory board members cause more internal CEO replacements. This finding indicates a substitution of external expertise of the executives by multiple supervisory board mandates but could also reflect a reduction of the monitoring intensity of the supervisory board.


Corporate governance CEO-succession Multiple directorships Competing risks

JEL Classification

G34 J24 J63 L25 M00