DOI: 10.1111/beer.12579 ISSN: 2694-6416

Star CEOs and ESG performance in China: An integrated view of role identity and role constraints logics

Mengyao Li, Min Huang, Dong Wang, Xiaobo Li
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Philosophy
  • Business and International Management


This study seeks to shed light on the effect of star CEOs on the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance of Chinese firms. Relying on the theoretical perspective of role identity and role constraints, we analyze data from 1222 Chinese firms listed on the Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Exchanges from 2006 to 2019. The results analyzed using the ordinary least squares estimate method reveal a positive effect of star CEOs' extreme confidence and legitimacy pressure mechanisms on ESG performance. We also find that this positive relationship is negatively moderated by higher organizational slack but strengthened by a lower level of regional marketization, as the degree of firms' dependence on external stakeholders' resources differs significantly. Additionally, this study finds that ESG activities are less likely to be associated with firm performance if star CEOs pursue them to satisfy their need for star status. These findings supplement the early tests of the influence mechanism of star CEOs on organization‐level results and expand the context discussion of role identity and role constraints theory in the Chinese institutional environment.

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