Most chiefs compare their job to a managing director's (53%). But 13% claimed they did not have any peers.
Civil servant (11%) and district health authority or public agency manager (both 6%) were the next most popular answers.
Two in 100 say politician and chief constable. Other chiefs volunteered cox and gladiator.
'The low inclusion of politicians is also worthy of note', she says. 'There may be something of a defiance here - perhaps there is a local feeling that the chief executive is not equivalent to the political leaders or it may be a reflection of a close complementary working relationship'.
She suggests chief executives do not like being dignitaries but do identify with the Audit Commission's 12 roles.
The three most preferred roles are as corporate manager, political manager and achieving results. The least popular are dignitary, political manager and handling central government, cuts and external influences.