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Is Executive Compensation Shaped by Public Attitudes?

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  • Kuhnen, Camelia M.
  • Niessen-Ruenzi, Alexandra

Abstract

In a competitive managerial labor market, compensation contracts should not depend on public attitudes or social norms regarding income inequality or 'fair pay'. In contrast to the standard view of optimal incentive design, we find that public opinion impacts executive compensation. We show that transient negative shocks to the public's view of executive pay leads to less total CEO pay, and to a shift away from options-based compensation and towards other types of pay. Furthermore, the level and composition of CEO pay also depends on persistent local social norms, such as state-level attitudes towards income inequality, or religiosity. For instance, in states where residents are likely to be more concerned with income inequality, CEO pay is lower across all types of compensation. Therefore, by changing the incentives faced by managers, social norms may influence executive decisions and ultimately, have an effect on real economic outcomes. --

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR) in its series CFR Working Papers with number 08-09.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:cfrwps:0809

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  1. Dinardo, John & Hallock, Kevin F & Pischke, Jörn-Steffen, 2000. "Unions And The Labour Market For Managers," CEPR Discussion Papers 2418, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Dew-Becker, Ian & Gordon, Robert J, 2008. "Controversies about the Rise in American Inequality: A Survey," CEPR Discussion Papers 6817, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Bruce Ian Carlin & Simon Gervais, 2009. "Work Ethic, Employment Contracts, and Firm Value," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(2), pages 785-821, 04.
  4. Hilary, Gilles & Hui, Kai Wai, 2009. "Does religion matter in corporate decision making in America?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(3), pages 455-473, September.
  5. Rafael Gomez & Konstantinos Tzioumis, 2006. "What Do Unions Do to Executive Compensation?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0720, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  6. Xavier Gabaix & Augustin Landier, 2008. "Why Has CEO Pay Increased So Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(1), pages 49-100, 02.
  7. Kevin J. Murphy & Ján Zábojník, 2004. "CEO Pay and Appointments: A Market-Based Explanation for Recent Trends," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 192-196, May.
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