Why do some CEOs become celebrities, while others with seemingly equal accomplishments do not? After two decades of research, far more is known about the substantial consequences of CEO celebrity than about its determinants. Drawing on the media routines literature, we develop and test a “push–pull theory” of CEO celebrity attainment, arguing and finding that (a) journalists pull certain CEOs into the limelight, particularly those whose firms are nonconformists within their industries and who themselves are demographically atypical; (b) CEOs, through various self-promotion tactics, can push themselves and their stories into public view; and (c) these push tactics are particularly beneficial for helping atypical CEOs achieve celebrity. We conceptualize CEO celebrity as an ordinal construct with discrete gradations, which we refer to as noncelebrities, B-list celebrities, and A-list celebrities. We test our theory using a longitudinal sample of CEOs, and develop a novel, ordinal measure of CEO celebrity that encompasses a broad array of media (newspaper, broadcast, magazine, and online), allowing us to set forth and test a more nuanced theory about different levels of celebrity attainment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Business and International Management
- General Business, Management and Accounting
- Strategy and Management
- Management of Technology and Innovation