John Gapper points us toward a recent study finding that chief executives with higher levels of testosterone are more aggressive in M&A situations.
"We are familiar with dominant chief executives who want to get their own way, but an academic study has found that young CEOs with high levels of testosterone are not only more likely to launch bids but more likely either to withdraw a bid in anger or to launch a hostile tender offer.
The researchers at the University of British Columbia did not actually test the CEOs in their study for levels of testosterone (they used age as a proxy) and my first reaction was to wonder if they were constructing a good story.
However, having read the study, they did consider alternative explanations, such as older CEOs being more likely to bid an acceptable amount for a target and found no evidence for them. Higher testosterone in younger chief executives remained the most likely explanation.
As they point out, M&A activity is thus similar to the “ultimatum game” - a psychological test in which two people are asked to split $40. The higher the level of testosterone in a male participant, the more likely he is to reject a low offer from his companion, even if it is all he can get."