Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Business Administration


Erik Devos

Second Advisor

Zifeng Feng


I explore how founder CEOs influence the firm. In my first chapter I examine how founderCEO risk-aversion affects firm capital structure. Using book and market leverage ratios to proxy for risk aversion, I show that REITs with founder CEOs have less leverage than other REITs. This result holds when controlling for firm size, firm age, tangibility, profitability, growth potential, diversification strategy, property-type fixed effects and year fixed effects. I use a propensity score matching methodology to examine whether the reduced leverage is due to factors other than a CEO's founder status. The results do not support that notion. I use a difference in difference approach to test leverage changes following the replacement of a founder CEO with a non-founder CEO and show that leverage increases following such events

In my second chapter I examine compensation level of founder CEOs. Prior literaturesuggests that founder CEOs may be able to extract higher levels of compensation compared to non-founder CEOs. Indeed, my findings support that. First, I show that REITs with founder CEOs are fundamentally different than other REITs. Founder REITs have less total assets, take longer to go public, and generate less funds from operations, and have higher risk, using return volatility and market beta as proxies, than non-founder firms. Tests of mean and median pay suggests that founder CEOs are compensated less than their non-founder counterparts, but the result reverses when controlling for firm performance, dividend income, and year fixed effects. I show that founder CEOs are compensated more than non-founder CEOs at the total compensation, cash compensation, and equity compensation levels. I test residual compensation as a robustness check and my findings hold.




Recieved from ProQuest

File Size


File Format


Rights Holder

Michael McGonigle