Lots of empty corner offices

Empty office desk

KAI RYSSDAL: It's not just problems with stock options that are costing companies their CEOs. A study by the recruiting firm Challenger, Grey and Christmas out today says corporate big-wigs are leaving at a brisk pace: 152 of them lost their jobs in September alone. That's a record. CEO firings and resignations are up more than 10 percent from last year, according to John Challenger. In part, because the position just isn't what it used to be.

JOHN CHALLENGER: CEOs are under intense pressure, not only from more activist boards who scrutinize their behavior, but from shareholders who second guess their decisions. From the legal system that's putting more questions up in front of shareholders and the society about their behavior.

CEO firings are up, Challenger says. And tenure among corner-office residents is way down.

CHALLENGER: Companies are moving their CEOs in and out like NFL managers. In fact, we saw the average NFL coach tenure about 3.8 years, that's not far off from what a CEO can expect.

So, they punt, I guess.

That's John Challenger of the recruiting firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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