Boardroom backscratching, or cronyism, is an unethical practice where CEOs conspire with directors to receive remuneration beyond performance- and market-related factors. Premised on the theory of planned behavior, this study investigates whether CEO generalist experience magnifies the likelihood of boardroom backscratching. Using 9482 firm-year observations spanning 1999–2018, our analysis shows that firms with greater CEO generalist managerial experience are more likely to engage in boardroom backscratching, via both cash- and equity-based compensation. We provide further evidence that backscratching firms with CEOs that possess greater generalist experience tend to overinvest, particularly via non-capital expenditure, as a channel for empire building and private rent extraction. We also find that a higher portion of female independent directors sitting on the board and the compensation committee mitigates the positive relationship between CEO generalist managerial experience and boardroom backscratching, which we attribute to greater ethicality of, and increased monitoring exercised by, female independent directors.
- Boardroom backscratching
- CEO generalist experience