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Existing research suggests that generalist CEOs, who possess managerial skills that are transferrable across firms and industries, are more able to bear downside risk than specialist CEOs with non-transferrable managerial expertise. In this paper, we examine whether generalist CEOs are better positioned to engage in risky tax avoidance strategies than specialist CEOs. Our empirical results support this prediction and show that firms with generalist CEOs tend to engage in more tax avoidance than those with specialist CEOs. Our identification strategy includes an instrumental variable method and a difference-in-differences test using CEO turnover as a quasi-natural experiment to correct for endogeneities. A battery of robustness checks and cross-sectional tests strengthens our findings. Taken together, our findings imply that general managerial skills of CEOs matter more for tax planning than do specific managerial skills.
Accounting and Business Research – Taylor & Francis
Published: Apr 25, 2023
Keywords: Tax avoidance; Tax uncertainty; CEO skills; Agency problem
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