Manuscript Type: Empirical
Research Question/Issue: We attempt to clarify the relationships between firm profitability, state ownership, and top management turnover at partially privatized firms by applying the behavioral theory of organizational search, which proposes that firms focus on target in performance evaluation.
Research Findings/Results: Using data from a large sample of the listed firms in China from 1999 to 2002, we find that firm profitability and state ownership are negatively related to top management turnover only when firm profitability is below target (measured by industry median). We also find that top management turnover has a positive impact on subsequent firm profitability when it occurs under performance below target, but has a negative impact when it occurs under performance above target. Lastly, we find that top management turnover under performance below target has a positive impact on subsequent firm profitability when the state is not the largest shareholder, but has no impact when the state is the largest shareholder.
Theoretical Implications: Our study provides strong support for the argument that state ownership weakens corporate governance quality in partial privatization. It also demonstrates the contribution of the behavioral theory of organizational search to the study of top management turnover in emerging economies where it is difficult to identify forced turnover.
Practical Implications: To further improve the economic performance of partially privatized firms, states should continue to dilute their ownership. In addition, firms should carefully manage top management turnover when performance is above target.