Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting

, Volume 51, Issue 4, pp 1071–1106 | Cite as

An analysis of proxy statement leadership structure justification disclosures

  • Xiaoyan Cheng
  • David SmithEmail author
  • Paul Tanyi
Original Research


The Dodd-Frank Act’s qualitative disclosure requirements have prompted a call in the accounting literature for greater qualitative disclosure scrutiny. In this paper, we investigate the informativeness of qualitative leadership justification disclosures required by Section 972 of the Dodd-Frank Act. The disclosures are divided between justifying combining the CEO and Chairman of the Board (CEO Duality) and splitting these two positions (split structure). We use content analysis in our investigation. We discover that the two types of justifications are very different. The split structure disclosures tend to be ‘boiler plate’ and lack informativeness. In contrast, our tests suggest that CEO Duality justifications are informative. Our tests suggest that disclosures’ intensities in CEO Duality firms are positively associated with an increasing volume of information that supports CEO Duality as the more appropriate leadership structure choice. Additionally, our test results show that leadership disclosures change users risk perception, but only for CEO Duality firms. This suggests that investors believe in and are using the disclosures when making their investment decisions.


Leadership structure disclosures Content analysis Informativeness Dodd-Frank Act 

JEL Classification



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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Nebraska-OmahaOmahaUSA
  2. 2.University of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA
  3. 3.University of North Carolina-CharlotteCharlotteUSA

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