Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Nishant Dass

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What makes a high-performing CEO? What CEOs should you invest in? These are the questions that the Board of Directors, headhunters, academics, and investors all seek the answer to. This paper explores the answer to this question by examining CEO performance at the extremes. Inspired by the work of William N. Thorndike’s “The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success,” this study expands upon his methodology, employing a statistical approach to analyze a broader dataset of CEOs over the past thirty years. Using a logit model of hyper-outperforming versus hyper-underperforming CEOs, it assesses the significance of individual CEO characteristics and capital allocation strategies as indicators. The research reveals a mixed result, with only some of Thorndike’s variables being statistically significant and others having opposite impacts. Additionally, while involvement in multiple outside boards correlates negatively with CEO performance, leading or working for outside companies has a positive impact, suggesting a nuanced view of CEO engagement outside their own firm. This paper challenges traditional assumptions of effective corporate leadership and provides new insights into the evolving role of CEOs in generating corporate success. It helps aid in the question and offers a fresh perspective on what makes a CEO truly exceptional in today's dynamic markets.