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Title: Do activist hedge funds target female CEOs? The role of CEO gender in hedge fund activism
Authors: Francis, BB
Hasan, I
Shen, YJ
Wu, Q 
Issue Date: Jul-2021
Source: Journal of financial economics, July 2021, v. 141, no. 1, p. 372-393
Abstract: Using a comprehensive US hedge fund activism dataset from 2003 to 2018, we find that activist hedge funds are about 52% more likely to target firms with female CEOs compared to firms with male CEOs. We find that firm fundamentals, the existence of a “glass cliff,” gender discrimination bias, and hedge fund activists’ inherent characteristics do not explain the observed gender effect. We also find that the transformational leadership style of female CEOs is a plausible explanation for this gender effect: instead of being self-defensive, female CEOs are more likely to communicate and cooperate with hedge fund activists to achieve intervention goals. Finally, we find that female-led targets experience greater increases in market and operational performance subsequent to hedge fund targeting.
Keywords: Hedge fund activism
Female CEOs
Transformational leadership style
Collaborative communication
Publisher: Elsevier
Journal: Journal of financial economics 
ISSN: 0304-405X
DOI: 10.1016/j.jfineco.2020.07.019
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