Are CEOs Judged on Their Companies' Social Reputation?

Xiangshang Cai, Ning Gao, Ian Garrett, Yan Xu

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How consequential is social reputation for a CEO's career? We find that the CEOs of those firms with greater strengths (controversies) on corporate social responsibilities (CSR) are more (less) likely to serve on external boards, and they hold more (fewer) outside directorships. CEOs lose board seats after the media expose their companies in negative environmental and social news. More nuanced analyses show that workplace diversity and supply-chain human rights are most consequential among the social and environmental dimensions of CSR. Our study demonstrates that CEOs are judged on their companies' social reputation in the director labor market. Our results also suggest that social reputation plays an important role in promoting CSR.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101621
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Corporate Finance
Early online date4 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • CEO
  • Corporate social responsibility (CSR)
  • Director labor market
  • Outside directorship
  • Social reputation
  • Stakeholders


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