Does Your Board Need an Executive Chair?

On February 2, 2021, Jeff Bezos announced that he would “transition to Executive Chair of the Amazon Board and Andy Jassy will become CEO.” While this change marked a major corporate governance shift for Amazon, executive board chairs have become increasingly common. According to Spencer Stuart, 15% of board chairs in the S&P 500 were designated as “executive chair” in 2021. Companies like Autodesk, Ford, Google, Iron Mountain, Occidental Petroleum, and Oracle have opted for an executive board chair in recent years.

Yet, to our surprise, few people understand what an executive board chair does, who tends to hold the position, and whether they benefit their company. To explore these questions, we identified 289 companies from the S&P 1500 index that had an executive board chair at some point between 2003 and 2017. Using data through 2020 from the BoardEx, Execucomp, Compustat, and SDC’s mergers and acquisitions databases, we compared these companies’…

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This article was written by Markus Menz and originally published on