Corporate Job Security on the Decline

April 3, 2013


In the eyes of many Occupy Wall Street sympathizers, the people who run America’s biggest companies are untouchably wealthy power brokers. However, this viewpoint fails to take into account the startling effect that the recession had on job security across the spectrum. One need not look further than the fate of former Groupon CEO Andrew Mason. After a string of failures, the board elected to part ways with the company’s founder. In his farewell statement to staff, Mason cheekily addressed his recent troubles: “After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding – I was fired today. If you’re wondering why… you haven’t been paying attention.”

While those at the top enjoy unprecedented rewards for their work, their leadership also elicits an intense amount of scrutiny. That’s why the people at the head of the boardroom table have never been less secure in their jobs. By 1998 the chances of a Fortune 500 CEO keeping their job for five years fell to less than 25 percent. In 2011 alone, nearly 15 percent of CEOs at the world’s largest companies left their posts.

But it’s not just poor leadership that’s ousting established executives from power. Corporate leaders from emerging markets are assuming control of some of America’s most well known brands. For instance, when the beer giant InBev took over Anheuser-Busch, the biggest benefactor was the deal’s orchestrator, Paolo Lemann of Brazil. Emerging market economies now boast more than 1,000 companies with annual sales above $1 billion, creating new corporate cultures that can be disruptive to American careerists. In the end, though, the demise of under-producing corporate kingpins might not be such a bad thing.



  1. What conclusion can be made about corporate power?
  1. Why has the tenure of CEOs diminished in recent years?


Source: Moises Naim, “Corporate Power is Decaying. Get Used to It,” Bloomberg BusinessWeek, February 21, 2013; Helaine Olen, “Groupon’s Fired CEO Andrew Mason Sends Memorable Goodbye Letter to Staff,” Forbes, February 28, 2013. Photo courtesy of Paolo Margari.