KU News: Value of experienced CEO fades when working in regions vulnerable to corruption, political instability

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Value of experienced CEO fades when working in regions vulnerable to corruption, political instability
LAWRENCE — A new study from a University of Kansas professor of business finds that the value of industry experience of CEOs to firm growth increases with initial years of experience but levels off around the 11-year mark. For small and medium-sized firms in less corrupt developing countries, further years of CEO industry experience do not affect firm growth. However, firm grow rates start to deteriorate after 11 years of CEO industry experience in countries vulnerable to corruption and political instability.

KU Debate team wins tournament at Missouri State University
LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas Debate team of Zachary Willingham, sophomore from Topeka, and Sabrina Yang, sophomore from Overland Park, won the Missouri State University College Debate Tournament, which took place Sept. 22-24. The KU duo defeated the University of Oklahoma in the championship debate.

KU Theatre to open its season with ‘Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties’
LAWRENCE — The University Theatre will open its 2023-24 season with a play that unapologetically dives into taboo topics, dips into a revolution happening around the globe and features puppetry to help tell the story. A provocative exploration, “Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties” by Jen Silverman will be performed in William Inge Memorial Theatre at Murphy Hall. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6, 7, 10, 11 and 12 and 2:30 p.m. Oct. 8.

Full stories below.

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Contact: Jon Niccum, KU News Service, 785-864-7633, [email protected]
Value of experienced CEO fades when working in regions vulnerable to corruption, political instability
LAWRENCE — Apparently, experience is not always a good thing. In fact, for CEOs of small and medium-sized enterprises, it can eventually prove to be a liability.
“At some point in time, our knowledge becomes obsolete. If we spend too long in one particular industry — like in high-tech, where the knowledge base is changing — we will become less effective at some point,” said Vincent Barker, the Edmund P. Learned Professor at the University of Kansas School of Business.
But this becomes further problematic when CEOs run businesses in less-than-optimal locations.
That’s explored in Barker’s new article, “CEO’s industry experience and emerging market SME performance: The effects of corruption and political uncertainty.” It finds that the value of industry experience of CEOs to firm growth increases with initial years of experience but levels off at around the 11-year mark. For small and medium-sized firms in less corrupt developing countries, further years of CEO industry experience do not affect firm growth. However, firm grow rates start to actually deteriorate after 11 years of CEO industry experience in countries vulnerable to corruption and political instability.
The article appears in the Journal of Business Venturing Insights.
Co-writing the article with KU doctoral graduate Juan Carlos Morales-Solis of West Texas A&M University and Arkangel Cordero of the University of Texas at San Antonio, Barker compares a CEO’s tenure to that of a football team’s head coach.
“As a coach, you employ a system. You come into a new program and establish your system, and then you stick to that system. Then new systems come along and pass them up, and you can’t adapt to the new ones,” he said. “So you rarely see coaches be effective with the same team for more than a decade.”
Similarly, there may be an optimal amount of industry experience for a CEO in any industry. And the complexity of the industry may determine how quickly their knowledge becomes obsolete.
“The surprise in our study is how quickly it starts to deteriorate,” Barker said.
“Eleven years is not that much time spent in an industry. It suggests that the value of additional years of industry experience is offset by the depreciation of the value of your existing industry knowledge.”
This depreciation is more substantial in countries susceptible to corruption and political instability. Essentially, those factors make running a small or medium-sized enterprise that much more challenging.
“You have this extra set of things to plan for and figure out such as who do we have to pay? Who is going to be in charge next year? Is somebody new going to come in and ask for money?” he said. “Some of this stuff at the government level is comparable to organized crime.”
Barker said it’s already demanding running a business as it is — even in a nation like the U.S. that has strong property rights and is relatively predictable in terms of laws and lack of corruption.
He said, “A whole new slate of problems is introduced once you get into a country where somebody can come up and say, ‘Well, your nice little plant here that employs 50 people, we’re going to shut it down unless you pay my cousin 5,000 bucks to inspect it for the regional health department.’”
The researchers tested their hypotheses using data from the World Bank’s Enterprise Survey of firms in emerging economies from 2006 to 2019. They received responses from 91,017 SMEs in 106 emerging market countries. (The survey defines SMEs as firms between 10 and 250 employees.)
At KU since 2002, Barker’s main area of expertise focuses on chief executive officers.
“I study everything from how they affect strategies to what happens to them after they get fired,” he said.
Barker said it’s always interesting peering into the world of powerful people.
“In some ways, it would be nice to be one, moneywise. But their lives are under a microscope. Their personal lives are probably messier than the average person’s,” he said.
Now he’s confirmed such messiness — at least as applied to a firm’s growth — is exacerbated once corruption and political instability enter the mix.
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Contact: Scott Harris, KU Debate, 785-864-9878, [email protected], @KansasDebate
KU Debate team wins tournament at Missouri State University
LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas Debate team of Zachary Willingham, sophomore from Topeka, and Sabrina Yang, sophomore from Overland Park, took first place at the Missouri State University College Debate Tournament, which took place Sept. 22-24. The KU duo defeated the University of Oklahoma in the championship debate.
Other schools competing at the tournament included Kansas State University, Missouri State University, Missouri Valley College, Oklahoma University, the University of Central Oklahoma, the University of Houston, the University of Texas- Dallas and Wichita State University. Willingham and Yang went 5-1 in the preliminary rounds to qualify for the single eliminations. In the elimination rounds, they defeated Wichita State in the quarterfinals and the University of Texas -Dallas in the semifinals before meeting the University of Oklahoma in the tournament championship.
Both KU debaters also won individual speaker awards. Willingham was the fourth-place individual speaker, and Yang was the seventh-place speaker.
“Sabrina and Zach were completely dialed in at the tournament,” said Brett Bricker, Kansas Debate head coach. “They were flexible and responded very well to unique and surprising arguments from their opponents. I’m very proud of them. This was a victory for the squad. We had students and coaches back in Lawrence helping them succeed, and a 2018 alum, Jacob Hegna, whose work helped them defeat the University of Texas-Dallas in the semifinals.”
KU debate teams will be competing at 17 tournaments over the course of the season through April 2024. This year’s debate topic is “Resolved: The United States should restrict its nuclear forces in one or more of the following ways: adopting a nuclear no-first use policy; eliminating one or more legs of its nuclear triad; disarming its nuclear forces.”
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Contact: Lisa Coble-Krings, Department of Theatre & Dance, 785-864-5685, [email protected], @KUTheatre
KU Theatre to open its season with ‘Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties’
LAWRENCE — The University Theatre will open its 2023-24 season with a play that unapologetically dives into taboo topics, dips into a revolution happening around the globe and features puppetry to help tell the story. A provocative exploration, “Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties” by Jen Silverman will be performed in the intimate setting of the William Inge Memorial Theatre at Murphy Hall. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6, 7, 10, 11 and 12 and 2:30 p.m. Oct. 8. The play is directed by Marzieh Ashrafian, a doctoral student in the Department of Theatre & Dance.
Many of the Betties’ stories combat age-old constructs of exhaustion and repression through a diverse array of modern feministic and queer viewpoints. A Shakespearean play-within-a-play and bluntly feminine puppetry advance the narrative and convey a powerful transformation in this dark comedy, which premiered in 2016 and moved off-Broadway in 2018. The author and playwright has had her plays performed nationally and internationally, along with a forthcoming debut novel.
Owners of Simple Mischief Studio Grace Townley and Spencer Lott, who is also a KU Theatre alumnus, will serve as guest artists on the production and have been working since early summer designing three puppets critical to the action, including the final scene. Simple Mischief is a creative studio co-founded by Townley, an artist, and Lott, a “Sesame Street” puppeteer. The company builds puppets for film and TV and teams up with local creative partners, like The Rabbit hOle. Credits include “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” (2019, Tristar) and “SpongeBob’s Pineapple Playhouse” (2020, Nickelodeon), among others. Their participation is made possible in part by the department’s Ronald A. Willis Visiting Scholar/Artist Fund.
A talkback with the cast and dramaturg will follow the performance Oct. 10 in the theatre. Tickets are available for purchase at kutheatre.com/collective-rage, by calling 785-864-3982 or in-person at the box office in Murphy Hall from noon to 5 p.m. weekdays.
“In the heart of the women’s liberation movement, where the battle for freedom and equality raged, I found my muse. My homeland, Iran, bore witness to a stirring revolution. Though movements for change have arisen worldwide, the shackles of patriarchy persist. No longer do we need metaphors; it’s time to address taboos and injustices candidly and sincerely,” Ashrafian said. “Our five characters embark on a transformational journey, seeking to change the world by first changing themselves. Realistically, we may not revolutionize the world with a play. However, it is my sincere hope that we can share this story with our spectators to ignite conversations and inspire change.”
Ashrafian is an accomplished Iranian theatre scholar and director with a Master of Arts in Puppet Theater from the University of Tehran. Currently a third-year doctoral student at KU, her expertise encompasses the semantic dimensions of cyborg representation on stage, Middle Eastern theatre, feminism and the intricate interplay of trauma and identity within the theatrical realm. Her journey led her to establish and lead as director of the theatre department at the SGHK Institute in Iran. Her directorial ventures, such as “There was a Home,” “Dream of Shoe” and “Wolf and Sheep,” have earned acclaim at national and international festivals.
Additional creative team members are Sara Baird, a theatre MFA student, and Dennis Christilles, associate professor of scenography, as scenic designers; Taiane Lacerda, a third-year MFA student in scenography from Florianopolis, Brazil, as costume designer; Riley Sansbury, a junior in theatre performance and psychology from Houston, Texas, as lighting designer; Hana Rose North, a sophomore in theatre design from Salina, as sound designer; Tiffani Brooks Hagan, doctoral student in theatre studies, as dramaturg and intimacy director from Spartanburg, South Carolina; Alireza Mirzaeinezhad, MFA student in expanded media, as video designer; and Kennedy Tolar, a sophomore in theatre from Tulsa, Oklahoma, as stage manager.
The cast members are Enya Sullivan, a freshman in theatre performance from Scottsdale, Arizona, as Betty 1; Natalie Loftus, a student in theatre and English from Hays, as Betty 2; Maya Perez, a senior in film & media studies, as Betty 3; Jayden Warf, a sophomore in theatre performance from Winchester, Virginia, as Betty 4; and Mak Mendelsohn, a student in fine art and psychology from Hayward, California, as Betty 5.
The University Theatre and University Dance Company are production wings of KU’s Department of Theatre & Dance, offering five to six public productions throughout the academic year. The University Theatre and University Dance Company productions are funded in part by KU Student Senate fees, and the theatre’s season is supported by Truity Credit Union.

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KU News Service
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Lawrence KS 66045
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Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, director of news and media relations, [email protected]

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