J. Yo-Jud Cheng - Faculty & Research - Harvard Business School
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J. Yo-Jud Cheng

Doctoral Student

Yo-Jud is a doctoral candidate in the Strategy unit at Harvard Business School. Her research examines CEO succession, top management teams, corporate governance, and other topics related to strategic leadership.

Her dissertation analyzes how top executives and board directors shape firm strategy, governance, and performance. Yo-Jud employs econometric techniques and draws upon a diverse array of novel data sources (such as online ratings, text from company filings, proprietary databases acquired through collaborations with executive search firms, and semi-structured interviews with CEOs and board directors of Fortune 500 companies) to link the decisions and dynamics that occur within the upper echelons of organizations to firm-level outcomes. Her findings develop new insights into how leaders contribute to firm value and position their firms for long-term competitiveness.

Yo-Jud graduated with a B.A. in Economics with honors from Wellesley College. Prior to entering the doctoral program, she worked as a Research Fellow at Stanford Law School and as an economic consultant at Analysis Group in Menlo Park, California.

Working Papers
  1. When to Take the Leap: The Antecedents and Consequences of Leapfrog CEOs

    J. Yo-Jud Cheng

    Much of the prior research on CEO successions focuses on differences between CEOs appointed from within the firm and those appointed from outside; however, this dichotomy neglects significant heterogeneity in CEOs’ career trajectories. In this study, I examine the environmental antecedents and performance consequences of appointing a “leapfrog” CEO: an internal candidate who is fast-tracked past more senior executives to be appointed as CEO. I propose that under certain conditions, leapfrog CEOs may perform more effectively than traditional-track CEOs because they embody both insider and outsider characteristics. I analyze CEO transitions that occurred between 2001–2013 in large, publicly-traded U.S. firms and find that 16% of transitions involve leapfrog CEOs. Among firms with high pre-succession performance, I find that firms are more likely to appoint a leapfrog CEO when their industry environment is declining – but only when the board engages in CEO succession planning; in addition, I find that leapfrog CEOs are associated with an increase in ROA of approximately 4 percentage points under these conditions and are more likely than other CEO types to shift resources away from legacy businesses. This study offers implications for how firms can use leapfrog CEO successions as a mechanism to adapt to changing environmental conditions and lay the groundwork for strategic change, corporate entrepreneurship, and innovation.


    Cheng, J. Yo-Jud. "When to Take the Leap: The Antecedents and Consequences of Leapfrog CEOs." Working Paper, 2018. (Job Market Paper.)  View Details
  2. Director Perceptions of Their Boards' Effectiveness, Size and Composition, Dynamics, and Internal Governance

    J. Yo-Jud Cheng, Boris Groysberg, Paul M. Healy and Rajesh Vijayaraghavan

    Keywords: corporate governance; boards of directors; Corporate Governance; Governing and Advisory Boards; Performance Effectiveness; Perception;


    Cheng, J. Yo-Jud, Boris Groysberg, Paul M. Healy, and Rajesh Vijayaraghavan. "Director Perceptions of Their Boards' Effectiveness, Size and Composition, Dynamics, and Internal Governance." Working Paper, May 2018.  View Details
Journal Articles
  1. The Leader's Guide to Corporate Culture: How to Manage the Eight Critical Elements of Organizational Life

    Boris Groysberg, Jeremiah Lee, Jesse Price and J. Yo-Jud Cheng

    Executives are often confounded by culture, because much of it is anchored in unspoken behaviors, mindsets, and social patterns. But when properly managed, culture can help them achieve change and build organizations that will thrive in even the most trying times. In "The Leader's Guide to Corporate Culture," the authors describe eight distinct culture styles: caring, focused on relationships and mutual trust; purpose, exemplified by idealism and altruism; learning, characterized by exploration, expansiveness, and creativity; enjoyment, expressed through fun and excitement; results, characterized by achievement and winning; authority, defined by strength, decisiveness, and boldness; safety, defined by planning, caution, and preparedness; and order, focused on respect, structure, and shared norms. These styles fit into an "integrated culture framework" according to the degree to which they reflect independence or interdependence (people interactions) and flexibility or stability (response to change). They can be used to diagnose a culture and to model how likely an individual leader is to align with and shape it. The authors offer five insights regarding culture's effect on companies' success: (1) When aligned with strategy and leadership, a strong culture drives positive organizational outcomes. (2) Selecting or developing leaders for the future requires a forward-looking strategy and culture. (3) In a merger, designing a new culture on the basis of complementary strengths can speed up integration and create more value over time. (4) In a dynamic, uncertain environment, in which organizations must be more agile, learning gains importance. (5) A strong culture can be a significant liability when it is misaligned with strategy. The package includes four companion features: "What's Your Organization's Cultural Profile?" "How to Shape Your Culture," "Convergence Matters," and "Context, Conditions, and Culture."

    Keywords: Organizational Culture; Performance Effectiveness; Strategy; Organizational Change and Adaptation;


    Groysberg, Boris, Jeremiah Lee, Jesse Price, and J. Yo-Jud Cheng. "The Leader's Guide to Corporate Culture: How to Manage the Eight Critical Elements of Organizational Life." Harvard Business Review 96, no. 1 (January–February 2018): 44–52.  View Details
Other Publications and Materials
  1. Why Boards Aren't Dealing with Cyberthreats

    J. Yo-Jud Cheng and Boris Groysberg

    Keywords: corporate governance; board of directors; cybersecurity; Corporate Governance;


    Cheng, J. Yo-Jud, and Boris Groysberg. "Why Boards Aren't Dealing with Cyberthreats." Harvard Business Review (website) (February 22, 2017). (Excerpt featured in the Harvard Business Review. May–June 2017 "Idea Watch" section.)  View Details
Book Chapters
  1. The United States in Contemporary Perspectives: Evolving Forms, Strategy, and Performance

    David J. Collis, Bharat Anand and J. Yo-Jud Cheng

    BOOK ABSTRACT: In spite of surging interest in the business group organization among business scholars, economists, and historians in recent years, academic research on business groups has, to date, remained within the boundary of emerging markets. The major aim of this volume is to explore the long-term evolution of different varieties of large enterprises in today's developed economies in the West. More specifically, the volume focuses on the economic institution of the business group and aims at understanding the factors behind its rise, growth, resilience, and/or fall; its behavioral and organizational characteristics; and its contributions to national economic development. While business groups, especially those with widely diversified product portfolios, are a dominant and critical enterprise model in emerging and developing economies and have lately attracted much attention in academic circles and business presses, interestingly, their counterparts in developed economies have not been systematically examined. This contempt for business groups in mature market settings stands in sharp contrast to the intensive research that has been conducted on other major models of large modern enterprises in those economies, such as functionally organized firms with a clear product focus and multidivisional enterprises that have diversified into related product lines. The present book aims to fill in this gap in the literature by adopting a coherent approach to this elusive subject.


    Collis, David J., Bharat Anand, and J. Yo-Jud Cheng. "The United States in Contemporary Perspectives: Evolving Forms, Strategy, and Performance." Chap. 15 in Business Groups in the West: Origins, Evolution, and Resilience, edited by Asli M. Colpan and Takashi Hikino. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018.  View Details
Cases and Teaching Materials
  1. CEO Succession at Cisco (A): From John Chambers to Chuck Robbins

    Boris Groysberg, J. Yo-Jud Cheng and Annelena Lobb

    A smooth transition from former CEO John Chambers to new CEO Chuck Robbins had put Cisco in a position of strength. Looking back, the board reflected on what they had done well and what they might have done differently, and pondered whether another company might be able to implement a similar CEO transition process. This case reviews the specific steps taken by the board of directors and other stakeholders during the selection process. Participants in the process included John Chambers, who was the company’s CEO at the time, the Cisco board of directors, Cisco’s human resources group, and the executive search firm Spencer Stuart. The process occurred in several stages, including an informal stage during which the board became familiar with candidates, followed by a 16-month formal process with goal-setting and clear definition of roles for all involved, various interactions with and evaluations of possible candidates, and voting.

    Keywords: Technology; Management Succession; Technology Industry;


    Groysberg, Boris, J. Yo-Jud Cheng, and Annelena Lobb. "CEO Succession at Cisco (A): From John Chambers to Chuck Robbins." Harvard Business School Case 417-031, August 2016.  View Details
  2. CEO Succession at Cisco (B): Announcement Strategy

    Boris Groysberg, J. Yo-Jud Cheng and Annelena Lobb

    Supplements the (A) case (417-031). This case supplement describes Cisco’s communications strategy around the CEO announcement, which focused on controlling the narrative and avoiding leaks. The strategy included both internal and external processes aimed at introducing the new CEO to employees and the general public, respectively. Externally, the process unfolded without media leaks and with a modest stock market reaction.

    Keywords: Management Succession; Communication Strategy; Technology Industry;


    Groysberg, Boris, J. Yo-Jud Cheng, and Annelena Lobb. "CEO Succession at Cisco (B): Announcement Strategy." Harvard Business School Supplement 417-032, August 2016.  View Details
  3. CEO Succession at Cisco (C): Chuck Robbins' First 100 Days

    Boris Groysberg, J. Yo-Jud Cheng and Annelena Lobb

    Supplements the (A) case (417-031). This case supplement describes new CEO Chuck Robbins’ earliest days after being announced as Cisco’s new chief executive. During this time, Robbins focused on building a leadership team featuring people with complementary skills and the disclosure of top executive departures during the transition period. Chambers also assumed his new role as executive chairman during this time frame.

    Keywords: Management Succession; Technology Industry;


    Groysberg, Boris, J. Yo-Jud Cheng, and Annelena Lobb. "CEO Succession at Cisco (C): Chuck Robbins' First 100 Days." Harvard Business School Supplement 417-033, August 2016.  View Details
  4. Cisco Systems: In Search of the Next CEO

    Boris Groysberg, Sarah L. Abbott, Olivia Hull and J. Yo-Jud Cheng

    It’s August 2014 and John Chambers is expected to announce his retirement after 17 years as CEO of global technology giant Cisco Systems. Under Chambers’s leadership, Cisco has grown from $2.2 billion in annual revenues and under 4,000 employees to revenues of $46 billion and more than 66,000 employees. With Chambers’s retirement imminent, Cisco’s board of directors must design a detailed succession process that will allow a smooth transfer of power. What type of selection process should the board members use? Which qualities should they look for in potential candidates? Who should the board select for their shortlist of final candidates? In addition to exploring the history of Cisco, its current market position, and profiles of potential candidates, the case provides an overview of different types of succession planning processes.

    Keywords: leadership; succession planning; CEO succession; managing change; person-organization fit; Management Succession; Transition; Talent and Talent Management; Retirement; Innovation Leadership; Recruitment; Corporate Governance; Experience and Expertise; Technology Industry; Information Technology Industry; United States; San Jose; California;


    Groysberg, Boris, Sarah L. Abbott, Olivia Hull, and J. Yo-Jud Cheng. "Cisco Systems: In Search of the Next CEO." Harvard Business School Case 416-027, November 2015. (Revised February 2017.)  View Details
  5. CEO Succession at Cisco (A), (B), & (C), and Cisco Systems: In Search of the Next CEO

    Boris Groysberg, J. Yo-Jud Cheng and Annelena Lobb

    Teaching Note for HBS Nos. 417-031, 417-032 and 417-033. This note can also be used with "Cisco Systems: In Search of the Next CEO," HBS No. 416-027.


    Groysberg, Boris, J. Yo-Jud Cheng, and Annelena Lobb. "CEO Succession at Cisco (A), (B), & (C), and Cisco Systems: In Search of the Next CEO." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 417-076, May 2017. (Revised January 2018.)  View Details
  6. CEO Succession at Cisco: Video Supplement

    Boris Groysberg and J. Yo-Jud Cheng

    Excerpts of videotaped class visits and an interview with former Cisco CEO John Chambers about Cisco’s CEO succession planning process. Topics include Chambers’ reflections on the process; the roles of the incumbent CEO, board of directors, executive search, and the executive chairman; internal vs. external CEOs; rotations and development; managing turnover; and organizational culture. The video is divided into several related sections. The first video segment, “Reflections on the Process,” contains Chambers’ general reflections on Cisco’s entire succession process. The instructor can either show just the first video segment to explore a wide range of topics, or select several of the subsequent sections to focus on specific themes. Designed to accompany the “CEO Succession at Cisco” case series (417-031; 417-032; 417-033) and “Cisco Systems: In Search of the Next CEO” (416-027).

    Keywords: CEO succession; CEO Turnover; management succession; top management teams; corporate governance; board of directors; Organizational change; strategic human resource management; strategy; high technology; Management Succession; Managerial Roles; Corporate Governance; Organizational Culture; Change;


    Groysberg, Boris, and J. Yo-Jud Cheng. "CEO Succession at Cisco: Video Supplement." Harvard Business School Multimedia/Video Supplement 418-705, December 2017.  View Details