Do Former Soldiers Make Better CEOs? by Efraim Benmelech and Carola Frydman at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University on 3 February 2014

An interesting article that makes the case for having former military personnel as CEOs.  The authors’ findings are from extensive research conducted over the course of two years.  The main values that they see former military personnel providing to the role of the CEO are:

1. “They perform better under pressure. Our interpretation is that service in the military may prepare one to make tough decisions and show leadership in tough times. ”

2. “He or she is less likely to make bold investments in physical capital or research and development compared with CEOs with civilian backgrounds.”

3. “CEOs with a military background are much less likely to engage in corporate fraud compared to their civilian-only peers—up to 70% less likely, in fact”

I generally like what the authors have to say, especially point #1 (performance under pressure).  Point #3 (lower fraud rate) – personally, I see this as having a military personnel having a higher level of accountability due to the inherent risks of being in the military, which would lead to a lowering of fraud.  Point #2 – I’d love to see the rough data on this study.  From my perspective, military personnel aren’t afraid of taking risk, but they do use a risk matrix (either procedural or “intuitive”) in making the best decision possible within the time allotted.

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