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Larger than life Steve Jobs tops CEO ranking

Steve Jobs has topped a list of the world’s best chief executives - despite his death in 2011.

The global list, compiled by French business school Insead for Harvard Business Review, ranked the former Apple head first, followed by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos in second and Samsung’s retired boss Yun Jong-Yong in third.

Mr Jobs topped the list for this year despite passing away in October 2011 as the analysis looks back at the performances of chief executives of big companies between 1995 and August 2012.

It takes in how much total shareholder returns changed during the chief executive’s time in charge, and the increase in the company’s market capitalisation.

The survey of 3143 CEOs, which bases its ranking on returns and market value change, credited Mr Jobs with significantly increasing Apple's long-term value, saying his posthumous results were even more impressive than when he topped the list three years ago.


‘‘It comes as no surprise that the best-performing CEO over the past 17 years was Steve Jobs of Apple, who was No.1 on our 2010 list as well,’’ said Morten Hansen, a management professor at the University of California, Berkeley and at Insead.

‘‘From 1997 to 2011, Apple’s market value increased by $US359 billion, and its shareholder return experienced average compound annual growth of 35 per cent. That remarkable accomplishment is likely to go unbeaten for a long time.’’

The journal said it chose to focus on the chief executives’ ability to created long-term value for their companies, rather than what is usually expected of them - short-term financial results.

In an interview with the the journal, Mr Bezos said a long-term approach to management was essential for invention.

‘‘I care very much about our shareowners, so I care very much about our long-term share price. I do not follow the stock on a daily basis, because I don’t think there’s any information in it,’’ Mr Bezos said.

‘‘The economist Benjamin Graham once said, ‘In the short term, the stock market is a voting machine. In the long term, it’s a weighing machine.’ We try to build a company that wants to be weighed, not voted on.’’

The highest-ranked woman was Meg Whitman, who came in at ninth for her time at eBay. She is now in charge of computer giant Hewlett Packard.

Only 1.9 per cent of the chief executives that were studied were women, the journal said.

The Economist magazine also noted the list appeared to show that ‘‘being a good corporate citizen ... does not make for a successful firm’’.

‘‘There seems to be no correlation between whether a boss has a good record on sustainability and the performance of the firm under his tenure,’’ the magazine noted.

‘‘Indeed the researchers could point to only a handful of CEOs who performed well on both metrics, including Adidas’s Herbert Hainer and Danone’s Franck Riboud.’’