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CEO excess compensation: The impact of firm size and managerial power

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  • Hill, Mary S.
  • Lopez, Thomas J.
  • Reitenga, Austin L.

Abstract

Chief executive officer (CEO) compensation has received a great deal of attention over the past several decades. Critics assert that CEO compensation is “excessive” because it is only weakly linked to firm performance (i.e., managerial rent-extraction). On the other hand, defenders suggest that CEO compensation is “justified” given the incremental shareholder wealth created by CEOs, or that large CEO compensation packages merely reflect labor market forces. Prior research documents that CEO power and firm size are associated with larger compensation, but providing evidence that the larger compensation is excessive (i.e., not economically justified) has proven difficult. For each test firm we identify a potential replacement CEO (i.e., an executive-specific, within-country (US) compensation benchmark) and create an empirical test of excess compensation. We also examine the possibility that excess compensation is conditional upon firm size or CEO power. In spite of an inherent bias against finding excess compensation, the results suggest that the most powerful CEOs receive compensation that is not economically justified. We find no evidence of CEO excess compensation in the largest firms.

Suggested Citation

  • Hill, Mary S. & Lopez, Thomas J. & Reitenga, Austin L., 2016. "CEO excess compensation: The impact of firm size and managerial power," Advances in accounting, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 35-46.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:advacc:v:33:y:2016:i:c:p:35-46
    DOI: 10.1016/j.adiac.2016.04.007
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. Michaelides, Panayotis G. & Tsionas, Efthymios G. & Konstantakis, Konstantinos N. & Xidonas, Panos, 2019. "The impact of market competition on CEO salary in the US energy sector1," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 32-37.
    6. Clement Olalekan Olaniyi & Ademola Obafemi Young & Xuan Vinh Vo & Mamdouh Abdulaziz Saleh Al‐Faryan, 2022. "Do institutional framework and its threshold matter in the sensitivity of CEO pay to firm performance? Fresh insights from an emerging market economy," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 43(8), pages 3386-3403, December.
    7. Weidong Zhang & Pengbo Hu & Jenny J. Wang & Zeyu Li & Hongrui Zheng & Xue Gao, 2022. "Equity incentive plans and R&D investment manipulation: evidence from China," Accounting and Finance, Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 62(3), pages 4157-4183, September.
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