Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Ninon Sutton, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Daniel Bradley, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dirk Libaers, Ph.D.


Acquisitions, Behavioral Consistency, Behavioral Corporate Finance, Corporate Policies, Firm Performance, Home Country Bias


This dissertation contains two essays that explore the effect of top managers’ background in competitive sports and foreign nationality on the organizational outcomes. In the first essay I document that one in four chief executive officers of large American companies (S&P 1500) have background in competitive sports developed during youth or adult years (Athlete CEOs). Using novel hand-collected data from detailed biographies of top executives I find strong evidence that Athlete-CEO-run firms are more profitable and invest more in long-term projects. Additionally, firms managed by CEOs with background in individual sports, but not in team sports, are more debt-averse and financially stable. From the career perspective, individuals with background in competitive sports reach top corporate positions faster, earn higher compensation, and serve their companies longer, which provides cross-validation of sport participation variables used in the main tests. In summary, my study shows how a managerial ability to perform and compete on a personal level can have effects on corporate performance, investments and financing decisions. In the second essay I highlight the importance of studying foreign CEOs since they manage eleven percent of large American corporations (S&P 1500) and study a propensity of the foreign-CEO-run firms to acquire firms in countries of CEO origin. I find foreign-CEO-run firms are more likely to buy targets in their CEOs’ home countries (home country bias) but do not make more foreign acquisitions in general. Also, friendliness of the home country’s economic and socio-political environment increases home country bias. At the same time, improvements in a firm’s corporate governance and higher CEO managerial ability reduce the likelihood of home country acquisitions. My analysis shows that CEO home country deals are value destroying as the stock market reaction to these deals as well as the acquirer’s post-merger operating performance are significantly lower than in other deals. The results suggest that CEO home country bias is driven by behavioral factors (e.g., CEO personal preferences, emotional attachment) and private benefits, and is not a result of information advantage.