Pilot CEOs and corporate innovation

Published: 6 December 2016

Authors: Jayanthi Sundera, Shyam V. Sundera, Jingjing Zhang

Publication: Journal of Financial Economics, Vol. 123, No. 1, 2017


We find evidence that chief executive officers’ (CEOs’) hobby of flying airplanes is associated with significantly better innovation outcomes, measured by patents and citations, greater innovation effectiveness, and more diverse and original patents. We rule out alternative explanations, leading us to conclude that CEO pilot credentials capture the personality trait of sensation seeking. Sensation seeking combines risk taking with a desire to pursue novel experiences and has been associated with creativity. Our evidence highlights sensation seeking as a valuable personality trait that can be used to identify CEOs who are likely to drive innovation success.

Read full article: Journal of Financial Economics, January 2017


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