Companies with visionary leaders are hurt if the CEO and chairman roles are split – Egor Matveyev

Visiting Assistant Professor of Finance, Egor Matveyev

From MarketWatch

A number of recent corporate scandals put a renewed focus on the dual role of CEOs serving as chairmen of the board of directors.

Carlos Ghosn of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is currently jailed in Japan on charges of under-reporting his pay. Facebook’s FB, -2.22%  Mark Zuckerberg has been criticized on how he managed recent crises, and has been called on to step down from the chairman post. Tesla’s TSLA, -3.96%  Elon Musk had to resign from the chairman role as part of the settlement agreement reached with the Securities and Exchange Commission in its investigation into Musk’s erratic communication through social media, which might have misled investors.

In recent years, the number of CEOs in a dual CEO-chairman role in large U.S. firms has been steadily declining. In the mid-1990s, about 65% of all firms were led by CEOs who were also chairmen. Most recent data from fiscal 2017 show that this number is down to 41%. Given the public pressure to separate CEO and chairman positions in publicly traded firms, this downward trend is expected to continue.

Advantages, disadvantages

There are many potential benefits that come from splitting the roles of the CEO and the chairman. First, it puts checks and balances in place, and ensures that important decisions are weighted and, if needed, challenged. Second, it sends a signal to all stakeholders — employees, business partners and shareholders — that the firm has two centers of power, and therefore is likely to be more stable. Third, it shows that the firm is more likely to be equitable, which may increase its appeal in the eyes of customers, prospective employees and business partners.

While the benefits are frequently discussed, costs are rarely mentioned. In my recent work with co-authors, we show that having additional power amplifies the effect of both good and bad CEOs on firm value and performance. It means that if the firm is single-handedly run by a powerful CEO, disastrous events, such as suspected fraud in the case of Nissan or misleading investors through social media in the case of Tesla, are more likely to happen. On the flip side, however, it also means that strong, visionary leaders benefit from being able to run their firms as they see fit and having their business decisions unchallenged. Many of the great success stories, such as Apple AAPL, -0.87% (under Steve Jobs, until his death in 2011), Amazon AMZN, -0.72% (Jeff Bezos) and Netflix NFLX, -1.50%(Reed Hastings) are all associated with powerful chairmen-CEOs. As we know, the ability to move fast and execute is critical in fast-moving industries.

Effect on shareholders

We show that these amplification effects of powerful CEOs on shareholder value are very large. For example, while good CEOs on average account for 4% of their firms’ value, good CEOs who have more power account for as much as 9%. Conversely, while bad CEOs on average can destroy up to 3% of shareholder value, bad CEOs with more power destroy more than 5%.

Read the full post at MarketWatch.

Egor Matveyev is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Finance at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

The good jobs strategy – Zeynep Ton

MIT Sloan Adjunct Associate Professor Zeynep Ton

MIT Sloan Adjunct Associate Professor Zeynep Ton

From Acast. 

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Zeynep Ton is a Professor of Operations Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

She studies the retail sector and the way that some firms have invested in paying more and doing more for their workers. She studied firms like QuikTrip, Trader Joes, Mercador in Spain – she found that firms that treat their workers better achieve better results.

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Why GoPro needs to pick a model–John Carrier

MIT Sloan Sr. Lecturer John Carrier

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer John Carrier

From Huffington Post

GoPro’s recent loss of $107.5 million is certainly dramatic. After all, last year it announced a profit of $16.8 million. However, it’s also a cautionary tale for all new companies that find themselves in a similarly precarious financial position after enjoying rapid financial success. When this happens, it’s time to take a hard look at the business model.

The big question the company should ask is whether it aspires to be more like Crocs, Chrysler, or Apple. These three companies have all found varying degrees of success through very different models. Each offers substantial pros and cons so it is important for GoPro to know its vision and find the right fit.

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A deep look inside Apple Pay’s matchmaker economics – Richard Schmalensee and David S. Evans

MIT Sloan Professor Richard Schmalensee

MIT Sloan Professor Richard Schmalensee

From Harvard Business Review

Standing on stage on September 9, 2014 at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC), Tim Cook announced, “We’ve created an entirely new payment process, and we called it Apple Pay.” Cook displayed a video of a woman who held her iPhone 6, the company’s upcoming upgrade, near a payment terminal.  She paid in the blink of any eye. “That’s it,” Cook said, exclaiming twice over “just how fast and just how easy” the new payment method was. An Apple press release claimed the new service would “transform mobile payments.”

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When selling virtual products abroad, don’t put prices on autopilot — Joey Conway and Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Assoc. Prof. Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Assoc. Prof. Catherine Tucker

From TechCrunch

If you have a physical product that you want to sell in more than one country, determining the price in different markets can be challenging. You might have to open an office in each country, or at least hire a consultant to assess local demand and analyze the competition.

But if you have a virtual product — say an app for a mobile phone — setting the price for it in different countries is easy. Using the individual exchange rate, the app store instantly will convert the price from your home country to any of the world’s many currencies.

This is, very likely, how prices are set for most smartphone applications sold in different countries. As developers prefer to spend time solving technical challenges, it is all too convenient to leave the responsibility of currency calculations and pricing to Apple or Google or some other virtual marketplace.

But is this the best approach when sellinginternationally? Is there a more profitable way to price virtual products sold in different currencies?

We explored these questions in an experiment that was both a real-world business trial and an academic exercise. We wanted to see whether we could boost revenue for a virtualproduct, Root Checker Pro, an app that helps Android users customize their phones. The app is sold through Google Play — the app store for Android devices — in more than 130 countries.

For our experiment, we selected six different currencies — Australian dollar, Canadian dollar, British pound, Mexican peso, Malaysian ringgit and Saudi riyal. Over six months, we charged various prices for the app in each of the currencies to see how sales and revenue would respond.

Read the full post at TechCrunch.

Joey Conway is creator and owner of Android app Root Checker Pro. He received his MBA from the Sloan School of Management in May 2015.

Catherine Tucker is a Professor of Marketing at MIT Sloan.  She is also Chair of the MIT Sloan PhD Program.