Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



In this dissertation, I examine the influence of CEO political ideology on firm’s innovation strategy and outcomes. In my theorizing, I draw on upper-echelons theory that underscores the role of executives’ personal orientations on their decisions as well as the scholarship in political psychology that demonstrates the different values and psychological needs of liberals and conservatives. Given liberals’ lower need to manage uncertainty and their openness to new experiences, I propose that a firm with a more liberal CEO is likely to develop more innovations, pursue exploratory innovations and develop innovations with extreme quality (high and low). I also build on liberals’ stakeholder orientation to corporate governance and their openness to new experiences to argue that liberal CEOs are more likely than their conservative counterparts to engage in basic research. Furthermore, considering liberals’ view about gender roles, gender inequality and gender stereotypes I propose that female inventors are likely to have more representation in firms with liberal CEOs than in firms with conservative CEOs. I tested these relationships by analyzing a sample of CEOs who led S&P1500 firms from 1992 to 2014 and the results were largely consistent with my predictions. My findings show that firms with liberal CEOs pursue more exploratory innovations, basic research, and develop more high-quality innovations. The results also demonstrate that female inventors have more presence in firms with liberal CEOs. Contrary to my predictions, I found no evidence that the presence of a liberal CEO increases the number of innovations or the rate of low-quality innovations developed by a firm. This dissertation demonstrates that the ideology of CEOs is more consequential for how firms pursue innovation than for how much they prioritize innovation.

Committee Chair

You, Jihae