Date of Award

Summer 8-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

First Advisor

William Mccumber


This dissertation analyzes the link between the professional networks of mutual fund managers and its effect on fund investor welfare. A unique dataset is constructed for analysis based on third-party verified U.S. corporate board ties. Chapter 1 first examines whether U.S. mutual funds associated with fund managers possessing board connections (“connected” fund managers) have an advantage over mutual funds that are not associated with “connected” fund managers. The evidence I find suggests mutual funds associated with “connected” fund managers outperform their “non-connected” counterparts by an average of 1.57% in annual returns. Additionally, mutual funds with “connected” fund managers collect higher fees. Overall, the findings suggest “connected” mutual funds send higher returns to fund investors while keeping some for themselves in the form of fees.

Having established board connections matter on a fund level, in Chapter 2 the focus shifts from the fund level to the fund manager level by studying the “connected” fund managers’ positioning within a social network hierarchy using the theory of network centrality. In other words, this chapter examines whether the professional networks of mutual fund managers, in the context of board director relationships, offer a mechanism of information flows to fund managers that ultimately affect fund investor welfare. The evidence points to fund managers enjoying higher returns when they are well-connected (via direct connections), and when their immediate connections are well-connected (via indirect connections). A long-short portfolio strategy based on eigenvector, a network centrality variable measuring how connected the fund managers’ immediate connections are (network quality), yields positive and statistically significant mean and risk-adjusted returns for both in-sample and out-of-sample testing. The results suggest fund managers use their director networks as conduits for obtaining relevant information, where the opportunity for obtaining relevant information increases as the quality of the fund managers’ professional network increases. Additional evidence also suggests fund managers may be holding back on utilizing the information from their current board appointment relationships.