CEO Illness: Transparency or Secrecy?

New York Times cites work of Milgard professor

Research Connections
A look at how the work of UW Tacoma faculty and students connects to current events…

IN THE NEWS: JPMorgan Chase CEO cancer    |    AT UW TACOMA: Milgard prof studies CEO illness

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. Photo by Steve Jurvetson.

Financial news media outlets around the world recently reported that Jamie Dimon, the CEO of banking giant JPMorgan Chase, has been diagnosed with throat cancer. Dimon says the cancer is curable; he plans to continue in his position as leader of the largest U.S. bank.

In its report ("Dimon's Cancer and the FIne Line in Revealing Illness of a CEO"), the New York Times referred to research by UW Tacoma Milgard School of Business Assistant Professor Lex Perryman. In 2010, while on the faculty of the Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University, she published a paper entitled “When the CEO is ill: Keeping quiet or going public?

The paper explores ethical and strategic aspects of CEO health: how an organization must balance an individual medical right to privacy against the requirement to disclose conditions or events that might affect the organization’s future and wealth. The authors recommend transparency over secrecy and suggest policymaking at the federal level that would require disclosure of CEO health facts.

Since Perryman’s paper was published, there have been numerous opportunities to see how companies choose to handle the illness of a CEO: Steve Jobs at Apple, Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway, and Brenda Barnes at Sara Lee among many. Although Perryman has since moved on to other research interests, these later cases indicate the same issues she raised in her 2010 paper are still present today: CEO personal privacy, corporate disclosure, succession planning and shareholder interests.

July 10, 2014
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