CEO succession plans enjoy little success, endanger shareholders

Top executives looking to ascend to the CEOs chair shouldn't count on getting there through their companies' succession plans. According to executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles (HSII), only 55 percent of Fortune 1000 companies choose to hire their successors from within.

Heidrick & Struggles pointed out that, of the 80 new CEOs who were appointed among Fortune 1000 companies in 2008, only 44 were promoted from within. This shocking statistic raises an interesting question: if corporate boards are only successful 55 percent of the time in identifying capable internal candidates to handle the most important job at the company, it's worth asking if they can effectively prepare for other critical matters that a company might face.