Board informal hierarchy and stock price crash risk: Theory and evidence from China

Khalil Jebran, Shihua Chen, Hongquan Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Research Question/Issue: This study examines how the informal hierarchy among directors of a firm influences the risk of stock price crash. We theorize that a clear informal hierarchy among directors increases managerial coordination of activities to hide bad news, which increases the risk of future stock price crash. Research Findings/Insights: Consistent with our theoretical predictions, our findings show that the informal hierarchy among directors, measured based on the number of board appointments they have, is positively associated with the risk of future stock price crash. This association is weaker for firms with larger boards but stronger when the CEO's status is higher than that of the majority of the directors on the board. We also find evidence that information hierarchy increases the degree to which managers hide bad news. Theoretical/Academic Implications: This study advances our understanding by showing that an informal hierarchy that tacitly forms among directors on a board can significantly guide boardroom interactions. Specifically, the findings suggest that a clear informal hierarchy among directors enhances their coordination to hide bad news and thereby increases stock price crash risk. Furthermore, the results provide evidence that CEO's status and board size are important factors influencing the functioning of board informal hierarchy. Practitioner/Policy Implications: The results have important implications for researchers and policymakers. The findings show that the informal hierarchy among directors can shape managerial behavior and guide boardroom interactions. The results also suggest that improving formal governance mechanisms can enhance boardroom interactions by moderating the effects of informal hierarchy in the context of China.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCorporate Governance: An International Review
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019
Externally publishedYes



  • board informal hierarchy
  • CEO status
  • China
  • corporate governance
  • stock price crash risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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