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Has Moral Hazard Become a More Important Factor in Managerial Compensation?

  • George-Levi Gayle
  • Robert A. Miller

We estimate a principal-agent model of moral hazard with longitudinal data on firms and managerial compensation over two disjoint periods spanning 60 years to investigate increased value and variability in managerial compensation. We find exogenous growth in firm size largely explains these secular trends in compensation. In our framework, exogenous firm size works through two channels. First, conflicts of interest between shareholders and managers are magnified in large firms, so optimal compensation plans are now more closely linked to insider wealth. Second, the market for managers has become more differentiated, increasing the premium paid to managers of large versus small firms. (JEL D82, L25, M12, M52)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 99 (2009)
Issue (Month): 5 (December)
Pages: 1740-69

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:99:y:2009:i:5:p:1740-69
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.99.5.1740
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  1. Rajesh K. Aggarwal & Andrew A. Samwick, 1999. "The Other Side of the Trade-off: The Impact of Risk on Executive Compensation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 65-105, February.
  2. Murphy, Kevin J., 1999. "Executive compensation," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 38, pages 2485-2563 Elsevier.
  3. John M. Abowd & David S. Kaplan, 1999. "Executive Compensation: Six Questions That Need Answering," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(4), pages 145-168, Fall.
  4. George-Levi Gayle & Robert A. Miller, 2015. "Identifying and Testing Models of Managerial Compensation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(3), pages 1074-1118.
  5. Margiotta, Mary M & Miller, Robert A, 2000. "Managerial Compensation and the Cost of Moral Hazard," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 41(3), pages 669-719, August.
  6. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  7. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1983. "An Analysis of the Principal-Agent Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(1), pages 7-45, January.
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  9. Oliver E. Williamson, 1967. "Hierarchical Control and Optimum Firm Size," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 123.
  10. Brian J. Hall & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 1998. "Are CEOs Really Paid Like Bureaucrats?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(3), pages 653-691.
  11. 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.
  12. Jensen, Michael C & Murphy, Kevin J, 1990. "Performance Pay and Top-Management Incentives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(2), pages 225-64, April.
  13. Patrick Bolton & Mathias Dewatripont, 2005. "Contract Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262025760.
  14. Kevin J. Murphy & Jan Zabojnik, 2006. "Managerial Capital and the Market for CEOs," Working Papers 1110, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  15. Garen, John E, 1994. "Executive Compensation and Principal-Agent Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1175-99, December.
  16. Haubrich, Joseph G, 1994. "Risk Aversion, Performance Pay, and the Principal-Agent Problem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(2), pages 258-76, April.
  17. Peter F. Kostiuk, 1990. "Firm Size and Executive Compensation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(1), pages 90-105.
  18. Cuñat, Vicente & Guadalupe, Maria, 2006. "Globalization and the Provision of Incentives Inside the Firm," CEPR Discussion Papers 5950, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  19. Drew Fudenberg & Bengt Holmstrom & Paul Milgrom, 1987. "Short-Term Contracts and Long-Term Agency Relationships," Working papers 468, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  20. Masson, Robert Tempest, 1971. "Executive Motivations, Earnings, and Consequent Equity Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(6), pages 1278-92, Nov.-Dec..
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