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Estimating the Cost of Executive Stock Options: evidence from Switzerland

  • Wolfgang Drobetz
  • Pascal Pensa

    (University of Basel)

  • Markus M. Schmid

    (University of St. Gallen, Switzerland)

It is often argued that Black-Scholes (1973 ) values overstate the subjective value of stock options granted to risk-averse and under-diversified executives. We construct a "representative" Swiss executive and extend the certainty-equivalence approach presented by Hall and Murphy (2002) to assess the value-cost wedge of executive stock options. Even with low coefficients of relative risk aversion, the discount can be above 50 per cent compared to the Black-Scholes values. Regression analysis reveals that the equilibrium level of executive compensation is explained by economic determinant variables such as firm size and growth opportunities, whereas the pay-for-performance sensitivity remains largely unexplained. Firms with larger boards of directors pay higher wages, indicating potentially unresolved agency conflicts. We reject the hypothesis that cross-sectional differences in the amount of executive pay vanish when risk-adjusted values are used as the dependent variable. Copyright (c) 2007 The Authors; Journal compilation (c) 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Corporate Governance: An International Review.

Volume (Year): 15 (2007)
Issue (Month): 5 (09)
Pages: 798-815

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Handle: RePEc:bla:corgov:v:15:y:2007:i:5:p:798-815
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