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Chief Executive Officer

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A chief executive officer (CEO) or chief executive is the highest-ranking corporate officer or executive officer of a corporation, company, or agency.

In the United States the CEO may also be the chairman of the board or the company president in small businesses, but these roles are often separated in larger organizations, to prevent the company from becoming dominated by a single personality, and to prevent a conflict of interest against the owners (the shareholders). Often, one person shares the chairman and CEO titles while another takes on the president and COO titles. Regardless, in virtually all cases where the CEO and president are not the same person, the CEO is of the higher rank.

In the European Union there are two separate boards, one executive board for the day-to-day business and one supervisory board for control purposes (elected by the shareholders). Thus, the chief executive and the chairman of the board will always be different people. This ensures a distinction between governance and management and allows for clear lines of authority. The aim is to prevent a conflict of interest and too much power being concentrated in the hands of one person.

In rare circumstances an Executive Chairperson can be appointed but this is either illegal in many jurisdictions or frowned upon by Regulators.

In the United Kingdom many Charities and Government Agencies are headed by a Chief Executive who is answerable to a Board of Trustees or Board of Directors.

The term "Chief Executive" is also sometimes used to refer to the politician who is the active ruler of a nation, in circumstances where the titles are not clear. For example, in Israel the Prime Minister of Israel is the nation's chief executive, while the President of Israel is not. In Pakistan General Pervaiz Musharraf held the title of Chief Executive before becoming the President.

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