China's CEOs miss stellar ranking in survey
International business school INSEAD's latest ranking of chief executives reveals some surprises about leadership.Despite China's great economic growth in recent years, its CEOs scored an average of 176 places lower than their US counterparts. Only three Chinese executives cracked the top 100, according to the survey released yesterday.
Less surprising, given Japan's long-struggling economy, its CEOs ranked, on average, 562 places lower than their US peers. Brazilian chief executives, on the other hand, did especially well, garnering 9 per cent of the top 100 spots despite making up just 4.5 per cent of the total sample.
INSEAD released a detailed ranking of the 100 most accomplished chief executives across diverse industries and regions. The report, titled "The Best-Performing CEOs in the World", builds on a global project initiated by the school in 2009, in partnership with the Harvard Business Review.
The ranking identifies objective measures of CEO success - notably shareholder return and changes in market capitalisation - to examine leadership success over a longer time horizon. The INSEAD study also offers a truly international assessment of CEO performance, reflecting the global nature of business.
The 2012 scorecard includes about one-third more CEOs than the earlier version - a total of 3,143 compared with 1,999 in the previous survey. These numbers reflect a group representing 64 nationalities and companies based in 37 countries.
Overall, the top 100 CEOs on the list delivered, on average, an impressive total shareholder return of 1,385 per cent during their tenures and increased their firms' market value by US$40.2 billion (Bt1.225 trillion). At the other end of the spectrum, the bottom 100 produced an average return of negative-57 per cent and lost $13.6 billion in market value.
The best of the best, based on returns and market value change, include some familiar names - Steve Jobs, the late Apple CEO, again ranked No 1, followed by Amazon's Jeffrey Bezos, Samsung Electronics' Yun Jong-yong, Vale's Roger Agnelli and Gilead Sciences' John Martin.
The sole woman ranked in the top 10 was former eBay CEO Margaret Whitman at No 9, who also ranked No 1 in the survey's top female CEOs, while Agnelli scored the top spot on the Latin American regional segment. Earning the No 1 place among European CEOs was Graham Mackay of SABMiller, while in India the honour went to ITC chief YC Deveshwar. Air China CEO Li Jianxiang won the distinction in that country.
The new research provides a variety of data aimed at helping define factors that contribute to exceptional leadership. For example, CEOs with an Master of Business Administration degree, on average, ranked 40 places higher, and insider CEOs ranked 154 places higher.
More interesting, however, is that the importance of those factors varies among regions. For example, in continental Europe, China and India, insider CEOs did not outperform outsiders. Industry variations seemed to exert minimal influence on CEO success, the researchers found.
The study also helps understand the relationship between CEO performance and their organisation's corporate-social-responsibility initiatives.
Some top executives did well by embracing CSR, while others excelled without doing so.
The survey was created by Herminia Ibarra, professor of leadership and learning and of organisational behaviour at INSEAD; Morten Hansen, professor in entrepreneurship at INSEAD and the University of California at Berkeley; and Urs Peyer, INSEAD associate professor of finance. They were assisted by INSEAD research associate Nana von Bernuth.