Human and relational capital behind the structural power of CEOs in Chinese listed firms

Wenxi Yan, Eduardo Schiehll, Maureen I. Muller-Kahle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This study examines the human and relational capital attributes that enable Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) to acquire structural power in Chinese listed firms, and whether gender differences intervene in the attributes that explain this structural power. We show that CEOs with elite education, longer years of education and work experience and more outside directorships are more likely to gain structural power in Chinese listed firms. However, female CEOs are less likely than male CEOs to achieve similar structural power, while only outside directorships, as a proxy for relational capital, compensate for this gender inequality. Employing human capital theory, our study advances the knowledge on CEO leadership by revealing the role of human and relational attributes to explain CEO structural power. Further, our study provides new insights about upward mobility and gender inequality in a fast emerging economy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)715-743
Issue number3
Early online date13 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • China
  • Chief executive officer (CEO)
  • Human capital
  • Relational capital
  • CEO gender
  • Structural power


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