Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Do Independent Expert Directors Matter?

Masulis, Ronald and Ruzzier, Christian and Xiao, Sheng and Zhao, Shan (2012): Do Independent Expert Directors Matter?

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The generally weak correlation between board independence and firm performance is a major empirical puzzle. One possible explanation is that director independence alone is not enough. To explore this possibility, we examine the full employment histories of independent directors at S&P 1500 companies. We define an independent expert director (IED) as an independent director who has worked in the same 2-digit SIC industry as the company where he/she serves as an independent director. We show that the proportion of IEDs on a board is positively and significantly correlated with firm performance. We find that when the proportion of IEDs is higher, there are fewer earnings restatements and larger cash holdings. Firms with IEDs have higher CEO pay-performance sensitivity, higher CEO turnover-performance sensitivity, and more patents with more citations. Stock market investors react positively to IED appointments. We also find the higher the CEO power, the less likely IEDs will be on board.

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