CEO Awards and Financial Misconduct

Jiangyan Li, Wei Shi, Brian Connelly, Xiwei Yi, Xin Qin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


We propose that CEOs are more likely to engage in financial misconduct after the media names them as being among the best business leaders. We theorize this occurs because winning such an award is a meaningful event that increases the CEO’s self-worth but also increases the CEO’s sense of psychological entitlement, including the freedom to break rules. We test our ideas by examining scenarios where award-winning CEOs feel especially entitled and therefore are most likely to commit misconduct. Using a sample of award-winning CEOs from Chinese publicly listed firms, we find that award-winning CEOs are more likely to commit financial misconduct in the post-award period than in the pre-award period. In addition, the effect of winning a CEO award on financial misconduct is stronger when CEOs are underpaid or from industries in which awards are rare and therefore more special. We also validate aspects of our theory that are difficult to observe. First, we use bivariate probit models with partial observability to confirm that our results hold when accounting for unobserved misconduct. Second, we use survey data that capture the psychological entitlement of a subsample of CEOs to confirm the mediating effect of psychological entitlement on the relationship between winning an award and committing financial misconduct.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Management
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • CEO award
  • financial misconduct
  • psychological entitlement
  • social status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Strategy and Management


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