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Optimal Executive Compensation versus Managerial Power: A Review of Lucian Bebchuk and Jesse Fried's Pay without Performance: The Unfulfilled Promise of Executive Compensation

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  • Michael S. Weisbach

Abstract

This essay reviews Lucian A. Bebchuk and Jesse M. Fried's Pay without Performance: The Unfulfilled Promise of Executive Compensation . Bebchuk and Fried criticize the standard view of executive compensation, in which executives negotiate contracts with shareholders that provide incentives that motivate them to maximize the shareholders' welfare. In contrast, Bebchuk and Fried argue that executive compensation is more consistent with executives who control their own boards and who maximize their own compensation subject to an "outrage constraint." They provide a host of evidence consistent with this alternative viewpoint. The book can be evaluated from both positive and normative perspectives. From a positive perspective, much of the evidence they present, especially about the camouflage and risk-taking aspects of executive compensation systems, is fairly persuasive. However, from a normative perspective, the book conveys the idea that policy changes can dramatically improve executive compensation systems and consequently overall corporate performance. It is unclear to me how effective potential reforms designed to achieve such changes are likely to be in practice.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael S. Weisbach, 2007. "Optimal Executive Compensation versus Managerial Power: A Review of Lucian Bebchuk and Jesse Fried's Pay without Performance: The Unfulfilled Promise of Executive Compensation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(2), pages 419-428, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jeclit:v:45:y:2007:i:2:p:419-428
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jel.45.2.419
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Bebchuk, Lucian A. & Fried, Jesse M., 2003. "Executive Compensation as an Agency Problem," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt81q3136r, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
    3. Lucian Arye Bebchuk & Jesse M. Fried, 2003. "Executive Compensation as an Agency Problem," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 71-92, Summer.
    4. Lucian A. Bebchuk & Jesse M. Fried, 2005. "Pay Without Performance: Overview of the Issues," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 17(4), pages 8-23.
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    1. repec:eee:intfin:v:50:y:2017:i:c:p:156-181 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. UrzĂșa I., Francisco, 2009. "Too few dividends? Groups' tunneling through chair and board compensation," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 245-256, April.
    3. Chaigneau, Pierre, 2013. "Explaining the structure of CEO incentive pay with decreasing relative risk aversion," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 4-23.
    4. Mohamed Khenissi & Peter Wirtz, 2013. "Processus Decisionnel En Matiere De Remuneration Des Dirigeants : Le Cas Vinci," Working Papers halshs-00850083, HAL.
    5. Eduardo Schiehll & Paulo Terra & Fernanda Victor, 2013. "Determinants of voluntary executive stock option disclosure in Brazil," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 17(2), pages 331-361, May.
    6. Robert J. Gordon & Ian Dew-Becker, 2008. "Controversies about the Rise of American Inequality: A Survey," NBER Working Papers 13982, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Croci, Ettore & Gonenc, Halit & Ozkan, Neslihan, 2012. "CEO compensation, family control, and institutional investors in Continental Europe," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 3318-3335.
    8. Dong, Gang Nathan, 2014. "Excessive financial services CEO pay and financial crisis: Evidence from calibration estimation," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 75-96.
    9. Chongwoo Choe & Gloria Tian & Xiangkang Yin, 2008. "Managerial Power, Stock-Based Compensation, And Firm Performance: Theory And Evidence," Monash Economics Working Papers 21/08, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    10. Camelia M. Kuhnen & Alexandra Niessen, 2012. "Public Opinion and Executive Compensation," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(7), pages 1249-1272, July.
    11. Amoako-Adu, Ben & Baulkaran, Vishaal & Smith, Brian F., 2011. "Executive compensation in firms with concentrated control: The impact of dual class structure and family management," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 1580-1594.
    12. Muhammad Fayyaz Sheikh & Syed Zulfiqar Ali Shah, 2016. "Executive Compensation, Firm Performance And Corporate Governance In An Emerging Economy," Proceedings of Business and Management Conferences 4406477, International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences.
    13. Choe, Chongwoo & Tian, Gloria Y. & Yin, Xiangkang, 2014. "CEO power and the structure of CEO pay," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 237-248.
    14. Robert J. Gordon & Ian Dew-Becker, 2007. "Selected Issues in the Rise of Income Inequality," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 38(2), pages 169-192.
    15. Loureiro, Gilberto & Makhija, Anil K. & Zhang, Dan, 2011. "Why Do Some CEOs Work for a One-Dollary Salary?," Working Paper Series 2011-7, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
    16. Feito Ruiz, Isabel & Renneboog, Luc, 2017. "Takeovers and (Excess) CEO Compensation," Discussion Paper 2017-039, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.

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