What Doesn’t Kill You Will Only Make You More Risk-Loving: Early-Life Disasters and CEO Behavior

During most of Steve Job’s tenure as CEO of Apple Inc. the company did not have any long-term debt obligations. Apple started an aggressive buyback program only after Tim Cook took over, at the same time that it added debt to its capital structure. Coincidentally, San Francisco, where Steve Jobs was born, experienced more disaster-related fatalities during Jobs’ formative years than Tim Cook’s birthplace of Mobile, Alabama. Could this anecdote be indicative of a deeper pattern, where personal experience of traumatic events shapes how a person views financial risk-taking?

A manager’s ability to assess and cope with risk has pervasive … Read more