The Pros and Cons of Bringing Back a Former CEO

The search committee forms, and vets dozens of candidates. Deliberations stretch for months. After an exhaustive process mulling all possible options, a decision is made. The new CEO is — the old CEO.

It’s a familiar scenario of late. Statistically, an uptick in CEOs returning to their former posts is hard to prove, but some high-profile cases – either meant to bring back the magic, or to clean up the mess they helped create – are drawing increased scrutiny. Michael Dell of Dell Inc. and Steve Jobs of Apple are prime examples, as are A.G. Lafley of Procter & Gamble, Myron “Mike” Ullman of J.C. Penney, Howard Schultz of Starbucks and Charles R. Schwab, who returned to his eponymous firm. Most recently, in September, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he will return as head of media firm Bloomberg LP, which he founded.


With all of the talent streaming through the corporate sector and the increased use and sophistication of executive search firms, why are companies going back to the future?

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