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If One CEO is Good, Would Two CEOs Be Better?

August 31, 2011

The St. Louis Business Journal is reporting on research by a University of Missouri professor that found that more companies are hiring co-CEOs.

Stephen Ferris, professor and director of the Financial Research Institute in the University of Missouri Trulaske College of Business, has identified 111 publicly traded companies featuring a co-CEO leadership structure between 1998 and 2008, including Bed, Bath & Beyond, American Eagle Outfitters and Blackberry maker Research in Motion.

Ferris said co-CEOs are effective in corporations that have recently merged because the CEOs help ease the culture clash. The arrangement also is ideal in a situation where a CEO has few natural checks, such as a weak board of directors or few institutional creditors that provide oversight and guard against improper or ineffective executive behavior, he said.

“Americans have long championed captains and titans of industry, but this research shows that having two corporate leaders can work,” he said.

Ferris found that on average, co-CEOs stayed in their positions 4.5 years, compared with an average 6-year tenure of solitary CEOs.

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