Abstract

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in a venture backed company is responsible for setting strategic direction in an ever-changing environment (Bruton, Fried & Hisrich, 2000). Because of their critical role in firm performance, the CEO’s leadership experience is one of the most important criteria in the venture capitalist’s (VC’s) investment decision process (Muzyka, Birley & Leleux, 1996). Research has also shown that VCs frequently replace CEOs when they are dissatisfied with firm performance (White, D’Souza & McIlwraith, 2007). Agency theory is the most widely used perspective in explaining why VCs replace CEOs, however other researchers suggest that the principal agent problem is related to opportunism since CEOs have a high ownership stake in the ventures they manage (Bruton et al., 2000). White, et al. (2007) suggest that venture backed companies move through predictable stages as they develop, and that each of these stages requires a distinct leadership focus from the top management. In this study, we build upon this previous research and pose the following question. Will CEOs with different personality sets perform better at different stages of a venture growth in venture backed firms?

We rely on the personality literature (Judge, Higgins, Thoresen, Barrick & 1999; Mount & Barrick, 1998; Hogan, 1991) as well entrepreneurship literature and propose that CEOs with specific personality factors will be better suited to different stages of growth and development in venture backed companies (Penrose, 1959).

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