This Essay explores the special corporate governance challenges posed by iconic executives. Iconic executives are complex, bittersweet figures in corporate governance narratives. They are alluring, larger-than-life corporate figures who often govern freely. Iconic executives frequently rule like monarchs over their firms, offering lofty promises to shareholders, directors, and managers under their reign. But like many stories of powerful and influential figures, the narratives of iconic executives also contain adversity and danger. Part of the acquiescence and enchantment with such figures is rooted in the virtuous promises embodied by their presence, promises of unity, accountability, and effectiveness in corporate governance. Unfortunately, for many shareholders, these promises turn out to be illusory, empty, and full of peril. The threatening hollowness of such promises exists because the virtues of unity, accountability, and effectiveness pledged by iconic executives also contain the vices of excessive deference, overconfidence, and licentiousness. Given such dangerous duplicity, this Essay calls for greater governance of iconic executives.
Tom C. W. Lin, The Corporate Governance of Iconic Executives, 87 Notre Dame L. Rev. 351 (2011), available at http://scholarship.law.ufl.edu/facultypub/121