Exploring the Personal Histories of the Top Executives of US Firms Using a Quantitative Approach: Is There a Geographical Relationship with Corporate Headquarters, and Does It Influence Firm Performance?


Corresponding author. Email: seano@nipissingu.ca


This paper analyses where top executives were born and where they attended university to uncover regional groupings of the most influential executives that shape corporate culture and strategy in the United States. Within the context of this paper, it is argued that the personal histories of top executives influence their decision-making abilities, and thus corporate culture. It was found that intra-regional, intra-state, and intra-city links were noteworthy factors in executive selection. Distances were higher, and percentages of intra-regional links were lower for more profitable and higher growth firms. This indicates that more competitive firms acquire executives that have experienced different institutions during their lives and university educations. On the other hand, less profitable and lower growth firms are more likely to obtain executives embedded in similar institutions that already exist within the firm. The results suggest that key choices made by corporate America are influenced in part by geography far more complex than its own operations.