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The role of CEOs' human capital in sustaining superior performance–empirical evidence from China

Jian Guan (Central South University, Changsha, China)
Fang Deng (Central South University, Changsha, China) (Hunan University of Technology, Zhuzhou, China)
Dao Zhou (Hunan University of Technology, Zhuzhou, China)

Journal of Intellectual Capital

ISSN: 1469-1930

Article publication date: 1 February 2022

Issue publication date: 28 April 2023




Focusing on the important representative of firm intellectual capital (IC), this research explores the effects of chief executive officer’s (CEOs') managerial human capitals on sustaining superior performance in Chinese transition economy to prove the dynamic and strategic value of IC and fulfill the gap of lacking emerging market studies in this research field.


Based on dynamic managerial capability theoretical framework, the authors propose a dynamic management path to analyze the influencing mechanism of CEOs' managerial human capitals to firm performance persistence and the moderating effect of environment uncertainty. Using a panel data of Chinese publicly listed firms from 2008 to 2017, it adopts dynamic first-order autoregressive models to examine these hypotheses. Several tests are conducted to further analyze and ensure that the results are robust and reliable.


These managerial human capitals reveal heterogenous impacts on sustaining superior performance, and environment uncertainty is a valid moderating variable to further distinguish their dynamic values. The supplementary analyses show the integrating effect of an MBA degree and output functional experience is positive and significant, and the results in Chinese state-owned and private firm subsamples are distinct.

Practical implications

It is beneficial for corporate stakeholders to judge and select CEOs and for policymakers to improve the efficiency advantage of IC in Chinese emerging market.


This study first explores the relationship between CEOs' managerial human capitals and superior performance persistence. Through introducing a dynamic perspective, it has extended existing performance persistence research into individual level and provided a new intellectual source of sustainable competitive advantages.



The authors are indebted to JIC editor Prof. Merrill Warkentin and anonymous reviewers for their many constructive insights and suggestions in improving this article. This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (71872185).


Guan, J., Deng, F. and Zhou, D. (2023), "The role of CEOs' human capital in sustaining superior performance–empirical evidence from China", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 610-631.



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