Not like the rest of us? How CEO celebrity affects quarterly earnings call language

Timothy G. Pollock, Roberto Ragozzino, Dane P. Blevins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this study we explore whether celebrity CEOs use certain types of language that affect stakeholders’ perceptions more than noncelebrity CEOs do during earnings calls. We focus specifically on the sociocognitive processes associated with possessing celebrity and how they are likely to influence celebrity CEOs’ language use. We argue that the sociocognitive outcomes associated with the confidence and sense of authority resulting from the CEOs’ celebrity will increase the likelihood they use more relatively positive, concrete, certain, and self-regarding language, all of which can influence stakeholders’ reactions. We also distinguish between A-list and B-list celebrities, and expect greater celebrity will result in greater language attribute use. Based on 8,203 quarterly earnings call transcripts involving celebrity and noncelebrity CEOs, we find general support for our hypotheses. A-list celebrities employ all four language attributes more than both B-list celebrities and noncelebrities, but B-list celebrities differ from noncelebrities only with respect to some language attributes. Our study contributes to the celebrity literature by enhancing our understanding of how achieving celebrity, and the degree of celebrity achieved, affects CEOs’ behaviors. We also contribute to the corporate communications literature by demonstrating how the sociocognitive processes and outcomes associated with CEO celebrity affect language use that can influence stakeholders’ confidence in what the CEO says, even if it reveals no new information.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Management
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

Keywords

  • celebrity
  • cognitive perspectives
  • content analysis
  • strategic leadership
  • top management teams/upper echelons

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