What Your Signature Size Says About You: You're a Narcissist and You'd Be a Bad CEO

Chief executives with bigger signatures make more money ... but only for themselves.

That's the conclusion from a new study on executive narcissism from UNC, which used the size of personal signatures in SEC filings as a proxy for self-importance. Since the 1970s, psychological studies have tied signature size to narcissistic characteristics.

Narcissistic CEOs spend more on capital -- offices, robots, software -- and acquisitions and also perform most poorly in competitive industries during uncertain times. From the report:

We find that CEO signature size is positively associated with a number of proxies for overinvestment, and that abnormal investment by narcissists destroys firm value via reduced sales growth and future revenues. Signature size is also negatively associated with current return on assets, especially for firms in early life-cycle stages (i.e. smaller, younger, more R&D intensive firms) where a CEO's strategic decisions are most likely to impact the firm's future value. Despite the negative relationship between CEO narcissism and firm performance, narcissistic CEOs enjoy higher absolute and relative compensation.

So, executive narcissism is positively related to over-investment in the short-term. Feel free to speculate in the comment section what that means in Washington.

[via The Awl]

>

Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

The Blacksmith: A Short Film About Art Forged From Metal

"I'm exploiting the maximum of what you can ask a piece of metal to do."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

Video

The Rise of the Cat Tattoo

How a Brooklyn tattoo artist popularized the "cattoo"

More in Business

Just In