Friday, August 06, 2004

Believing one's own press

"Welch has delivered extraordinary growth, increasing the market value of GE from just $12 billion in 1981 to about $280 billion today. No one, not even Microsoft's William H. Gates III or Intel's Andrew S. Grove, not Walt Disney's Michael D. Eisner or Berkshire Hathaway's Warren E. Buffet, not even the late Coca-Cola chieftain Roberto C. Goizueta or the late Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton has created more shareholder value than Jack Welch (Business Week, 1998)".
According to researchers Mathew Hayward, Violina Rindova and Timothy Pollock (Strategic Management Journal, July 2004), journalists systematically over-attribute a firm's actions and outcomes to it's CEO rather than to broader situational factors.
Even more interesting is their conclusion that a CEO who internalizes such celebrity will also tend to believe this over-attribution and become overconfident about the efficacy of his/her past actions and future abilities, underestimating the impact of situational factors in the external environment, especially the actions of competitors, on the firm's ability to realize its own strategies.
Hubris arises when CEO overconfidence results in problematic decisions, including undue persistence with actions that produce celebrity.
Hayward ea suggest that "The greater a CEO's celebrity, the more a CEO will commit to continuing the actions that are associated with the celebrity and the greater the strategic inertia of the firm".