The influence of CEO personality traits on firm performance and growth

  • Joaquim Luís Simões Malafaia (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Small and Medium-sized Enterprises constitute the backbone of the Portuguese economy, being of invaluable importance. These companies are the focus of my study, which aims to assess the impact of CEO personality on firm performance and growth. To achieve this, a survey-based approach was followed to measure the influence of the big five personality traits (conscientiousness, neuroticism, openness to experience, extraversion and agreeableness) of a sample of recruited CEOs, on several performance metrics.Results showed that neuroticism is the only CEO personality trait significantly correlated with firm performance (on an inverse basis), while both neuroticism and conscientiousness show significant influence on company growth. Neither of the other traits are related to performance nor growth. It is worth mentioning that his dissertation was significantly influenced by Covid-19, which affected the performances of most companies in question, and by the process of collecting CEO responses, which was of extreme difficulty and led to a low response count.This study contributes to further create knowledge in an underdeveloped area, one that has extreme importance as it has been proven that CEO personality affects company performance, meaning that it has to be considered when companies choose their leaders. As CEO effects have been studied in detail in the academic literature, most papers have focused on their influence in firm strategy, employee motivation, leadership, culture setting, among others. However, personality, by affecting the way CEOs think, feel and act, should be more and more assessed to account for the effects it has on performance.
Date of Award26 Oct 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorCristina Mendonça (Supervisor)


  • SME
  • CEO
  • Big five personality traits
  • Firm performance
  • Firm growth


  • Mestrado em Gestão e Administração de Empresas

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