Based on the upper echelon and principal-agent theory, using the non-financial listed companies in China from 2009 to 2016 as the research sample, we theoretically analyze and empirically test the impact of CEO weibo on his individual reputation and firm performance. The results show that, whether in traditional industries or new technology industries, CEOs are willing to register and use weibo to enhance the communication and interaction with the public, in order to maintain public concern for them. The more CEO weibo publishes, the better CEOs’ individual reputation will be, regardless of whether the content is related to individuals or firms. On the other hand, the total number of CEO weibo has a significant and negative impact on firm performance. And the more the number of individual-related weibo is, the stronger the negative impact on firm performance is. In different organizational contexts, the impact of CEO weibo on firm performance is different. Specifically, there is a more significant and negative effect of the total CEO weibo number on firm performance in non-consumer-related industries, non-state-owned enterprises and the enterprises where CEOs are not the board chair. Only in consumer-related industries, individual-related weibo will have a significant and positive impact on firm performance. To some extent, the competition between individuals or firms is becoming increasingly fierce in the era of rapid development of information, so that the use of the weibo platform to increase exposure has become the trend of the times. Though CEO weibo is conducive to CEOs’ own social attention and improves their individual reputation, CEO individual-related weibo improves firm performance only in consumer-related industries. As a whole, CEO weibo is not always conducive to improve firm performance.
This paper enriches and expands the research on the effect of CEO characteristics on firm performance, and provides a new empirical evidence for the upper echelon perspective and the principal-agent theory. At the same time, the theoretical analysis and conclusions of this paper also have certain reference value for corporate policy-makers and external investors.