The 2009 study examined 10 consecutive years’ worth of detailed data on CEO succession among the world’s top 2,500 public companies. This rich database comprised 3,719 CEO turnover events globally. It was remarkable to see how turnover rates had converged across regions since we first began tracking them in 2000. The traits of new CEO appointments — such as the predominance of insiders and the split of the CEO and chairman roles — also converged around new global norms.
Meanwhile, the compression of the role itself became more noticeable, both in the data and in our ongoing conversations with CEOs around the world. The study includes more than a dozen interviews with CEOs in the United States, Europe, South America, and Japan, and their remarks reaffirmed the study’s conclusions: The tenure of a CEO is becoming shorter and more intense, the margin for error or underperformance is narrow, and the role of CEO increasingly excludes the job of also being chairman.