CEO Narcissism and the Impact of Prior Board Experience on Corporate Strategy

Hongquan Zhu, Guoli Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

151 Scopus citations


We examine how chief executive officer (CEO) narcissism influences the interorganizational imitation of corporate strategy. We theorize that narcissistic CEOs are influenced more by the corporate strategies they experienced on other boards and less by the corporate strategies experienced by other directors. These effects are strengthened if the other firms to which the CEO has interlock ties have high status and if the CEO is powerful. Through longitudinal analyses of Fortune 500 companies’ decisions (from 1997 to 2006) related to the acquisition emphasis of a firm’s growth strategy and the firm’s level of international diversification, we show that narcissistic CEOs are influenced by corporate strategies that they witnessed at other firms much more than other CEOs. In addition, relatively narcissistic CEOs not only strongly resist the influence of other directors’ prior experience but also tend to demonstrate their superiority by adopting corporate strategies that are the opposite of what fellow directors’ prior experience would suggest. Our theory and results highlight how CEO narcissism limits directors’ influence over corporate strategy and influences CEOs’ learning and information processing in making strategic decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-65
Number of pages35
JournalAdministrative Science Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 14 2015


  • acquisitions
  • board of directors
  • chief executive officers
  • imitation
  • interlocks
  • international diversification
  • learning
  • narcissism
  • power
  • status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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