Dr Guoli Chen, INSEAD

Mortality salience – the awareness of the inevitability of death – is often traumatic. However, it can also be associated with a range of positive, self-transcendent cognitive responses, such as a greater desire to help others, contribute to society, and make a more meaningful contribution in one’s life and career. In this study, we provide evidence of a causal link between CEO mortality salience and a subsequent increase in prosocial behaviour, at both the individual and organisational levels. We find that CEOs experiencing a situation likely to trigger mortality salience (the death of a director at the same firm) engage in a series of actions reflecting a greater personal and professional focus on prosociality, including an increased presence on nonprofit boards, more frequent use of prosocial language, and higher levels of corporate social responsibility at both the CEOs’ home firms and the outside firms on whose boards they sit. We further show that the impact of director deaths is amplified in situations where CEO mortality salience should be most acute (for example, high CEO-director demographic similarity, and sudden director deaths). In supplementary analyses, we also find suggestive evidence that CEO prosociality is directed toward ingroups.

Speaker bio

Dr Guoli Chen is an Associate Professor of Strategy at INSEAD. He received his PhD in Strategic Management from the Pennsylvania State University. He teaches Strategy, Value Innovation, Incentives Design, and Corporate Governance courses to the MBA, PhD, and Executive Education programme participants.

Guoli’s research focuses on the influence of CEOs, top executives, and boards of directors on firms’ strategic choices and organisational outcomes, as well as the interaction and dynamics in the top management team and CEO-board relationships. He is interested in organisational growth, renewal, and corporate development activities, such as IPOs, M&As, innovation, globalisation. He has published in several top academic journals, such as Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Journal, Strategic Management Journal, Organization Science, Journal of Business Venturing, Leadership Quarterly, and Strategic Organization. His papers have received awards at the Academy of Management Conference and Strategic Management Society Conference. He was a representative-at-large of the Corporate Strategy and Corporate Governance interest group of the Strategic Management Society and serves on the editorial board of the Academy of Management Journal.

Before starting his academic career, Guoli worked as an investment banker at Daiwa Securities SMBC. He provided financial consulting in the areas of IPOs, fundraising, and company restructuring.

This seminar is organised in association with the Cambridge Corporate Governance Network (CCGN).

Clock icon Date & time

Date: 19 March 2018
Start Time: 15:30
End Time: 17:00

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Open to: Members of the University of Cambridge



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Event timings

Date: 19 March 2018
Start Time: 15:30
End Time: 17:00