Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Business Administration


Erik Devos


In my first chapter, I investigate corporate announcements related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict of S&P 500 firms. I observe that firms withdrawing from Russia or suspending operations possess higher cash levels. Additionally, firms with more cash seem to announce withdrawals or suspensions more promptly. These findings suggest that cash levels are pivotal in how firms respond to geopolitical events. While cash does not seem influential when firms announce donations due to the conflict, it does affect the speed of such announcements. Social media also appears to play a significant role. Examining investor reactions to donation or withdrawal/suspension announcements, I report negative returns surrounding these announcements. My paper underscores the critical role of cash reserves (i.e., financial flexibility) in shaping firm reactions to geopolitical events.

In my second chapter, I investigate on the risk averseness of founder CEOs in the context of U.S. utility industry. A growing number of public U.S. firms are headed by the CEOs who founded the firms. Founder-CEO firms often differ from non-founder-CEO firms in terms of firm valuation, investment behavior, and performance. By using a sample of utility companies from year 1990 to 2022, I investigate on the risk-taking behavior of founder-CEO firms and non-founder-CEO firms. I find that utility companies run by founder CEOs use significantly lower debt compared to the utility companies run by non-founder CEOs. By addressing potential causality between leverage and performance, I still find that utility companies with founder CEOs use less debt. When I use widely used alternative measures of risk averseness i.e. corporate cash-holding and capital expenditures (CAPEX), I find that both the cash-holding and capital expenditures (CAPEX) are higher for founder led utility companies relative to non-founder led utility companies. Together, my findings suggest that founder CEOs of utility companies are risk averse.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

83 p.

File Format


Rights Holder


Available for download on Tuesday, December 31, 2030