A new opinion piece by Bert Spector, Associate Professor of International Business and Strategy at the D'Amore-McKim School of Business, Northeastern University, says Trump would be hearing the words "You're Fired!" if his administration was a public company.

By Daniel Herborn


Posted on September 12, 2018

Spector penned the opinion piece in the wake of revelations in Bob Woodward’s new book about Trump, including details of senior figures thwarting the President’s more rash impulses by removing a letter from the President’s desk that he intended to sign and formally end the US trade agreement with South Korea.

Similarly, an explosive anonymous op-ed published by The New York Times revealed senior figures in the Trump administration are “working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”

“As a business professor, I find myself wondering how this might play out in the highest ranks of a public corporation if they were anywhere near this chaotic,” Spector writes.

In a previous piece, Spector argued that Trump had got a lot of mileage of his business experience in his presidential campaign, but he “wasn’t a genuine CEO”.

“He didn’t run a major public corporation with shareholders and a board of directors that could hold him to account,” Spector explained. “Instead, he was the head of a family-owned, private web of enterprises. Regardless of the title he gave himself, the position arguably ill-equipped him for the demands of the presidency.”

Bert Spector: Trump failed as CEO of a public company

Further, Spector says that Trump is obsessed with secrecy, meaning little of substance is actually known about the internal workings or financial state of his various businesses. He says the President has rarely worked under the checks and balances built into a public company.

Trump’s one publicly listed venture, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, was a disaster, losing US$647 million between 1995 and 2004. Investors in the company lost 90 cents on the dollar. Trump made US$39 million running the failed company and was paid to consult for his own company and to allow it to use his name.

In his recent piece, Spector points to the fate of Uber founder Travis Kalanick from his role as CEO after the company recorded dispiriting results in an employee attitude survey and footage of Kalanick screaming at this Uber driver was leaked.

Another founding CEO, John Schnatter of Papa John’s, was similarly forced out by his board after he used the N-word racial slur in a conference call.

Both Kalanick and Schnatter are examples of high-profile CEOs being ousted because their behaviour damaged the public perception of their companies.

The article also outlines how independent board members and activist shareholders act as important checks and balances in the system and will force out a scandal-prone or underperforming CEO.