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The Ethics of Hedging by Executives

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  • Lee Dunham

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  • Ken Washer

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    Abstract

    Executives of many publicly held firms agree to compensation packages that create immense exposure to their employer’s stock. Corporate boards, aspiring to motivate executives to make value-maximizing decisions, often tie an executive’s earnings to stock price performance through stock or option awards. However, this engenders a significant ethical dilemma for many executives who are uncomfortable with sizable, firm-specific risk and desire to reduce it through hedging activities. Recent research has shown that executive hedging has become more prevalent. In essence, managers are unwinding the acute economic incentive to act in the best interest of the owners. This appears to violate the spirit of the compensation contract and from a normative standpoint, is not how executives should act. In this article, we describe how some executives are acting in regard to this issue (descriptive ethics), how they should act (normative ethics) and how they can be helped to get from what they are doing, to what they should be doing (prescriptive ethics). Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10551-011-1198-x
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Business Ethics.

    Volume (Year): 111 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 2 (December)
    Pages: 157-164

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:111:y:2012:i:2:p:157-164

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    Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100281

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    Keywords: Executive Compensation; Managerial Hedging; Ethics; Business Ethics;

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    1. Smith, Clifford W. & Stulz, René M., 1985. "The Determinants of Firms' Hedging Policies," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(04), pages 391-405, December.
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    7. Bebchuk, Lucian Arye & Fried, Jesse & Walker, David I, 2002. "Managerial Power and Rent Extraction in the Design of Executive Compensation," CEPR Discussion Papers 3558, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    10. Eli Ofek & David Yermack, 2000. "Taking Stock: Equity-Based Compensation and the Evolution of Managerial Ownership," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(3), pages 1367-1384, 06.
    11. May, Don O, 1995. " Do Managerial Motives Influence Firm Risk Reduction Strategies?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1291-1308, September.
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    13. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
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