IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Give everyone a prize? Employee stock options in private venture-backed firms

  • Hand, John R.M.
Registered author(s):

    This study examines employee stock options in private entrepreneurial companies. I focus on private U.S. venture-backed firms because they are renowned for the intensity and organizational depth of their stock option grants. Contrary to simple stereotype, however, I show that 27% of U.S. venture-backed firms do not grant stock options to all employees. I seek to explain this by theorizing that the economic and legal settings in which venture-backed companies exist lead to both costs and benefits from the use of stock options to attract, compensate, incent, monitor, and retain certain employees, and that sometimes the costs exceed the benefits. I test the theory by determining whether variation in the organizational depth to which venture-backed firms grant employee stock options can be explained by proxies for these economic and legal costs. Such proxies include the fraction of employees who are in technical positions; the degree of flatness in the firm's organizational structure; its proximity to other venture-backed companies; the number of patents it has been granted; and the fraction of equity held by venture investors. The results support the theory and thereby imply that venture-backed firms grant employee stock options in an economically sophisticated manner.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6VDH-4P2S26H-1/1/7daa4778bb204ea53816aad2a28e7cf9
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Business Venturing.

    Volume (Year): 23 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 4 (July)
    Pages: 385-404

    as
    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:jbvent:v:23:y:2008:i:4:p:385-404
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jbusvent

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. 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.
    2. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-61, January.
    3. Alchian, Armen A & Demsetz, Harold, 1972. "Production , Information Costs, and Economic Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 777-95, December.
    4. Joseph Blasi & Michael Conte & Douglas Kruse, 1996. "Employee stock ownership and corporate performance among public companies," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 50(1), pages 60-79, October.
    5. Yermack, David, 1997. " Good Timing: CEO Stock Option Awards and Company News Announcements," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(2), pages 449-76, June.
    6. Kenneth E. Knight, 1967. "A Descriptive Model of the Intra-Firm Innovation Process," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 40, pages 478.
    7. Paul Oyer & Scott Schaefer, 2004. "Why Do Some Firms Give Stock Options to All Employees?: An Empirical Examination of Alternative Theories," NBER Working Papers 10222, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Hellmann, Thomas F. & Puri, Manju, 2000. "Venture Capital and the Professionalization of Start-up Firms: Empirical Evidence," Research Papers 1661, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    9. Mike Wright, 1998. "Venture Capital and Private Equity: A Review and Synthesis," Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(5&6), pages 521-570.
    10. Shepherd, Dean A. & Ettenson, Richard & Crouch, Andrew, 2000. "New venture strategy and profitability: A venture capitalist's assessment," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 15(5-6), pages 449-467.
    11. Scott Shane, 2006. "Introduction to the Focused Issue on Entrepreneurship," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(2), pages 155-159, February.
    12. Tobias J. Moskowitz & Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2002. "The Returns to Entrepreneurial Investment: A Private Equity Premium Puzzle?," NBER Working Papers 8876, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Raghuram Rajan & Julie Wulf, 2003. "The Flattening Firm: Evidence from Panel Data on the Changing Nature of Corporate Hierarchies," NBER Working Papers 9633, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Paul Oyer, 2004. "Why Do Firms Use Incentives That Have No Incentive Effects?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(4), pages 1619-1650, 08.
    15. Tobias J. Moskowitz & Annette Vissing-Jørgensen, 2002. "The Returns to Entrepreneurial Investment: A Private Equity Premium Puzzle?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 745-778, September.
    16. Hausman, Jerry A, 1978. "Specification Tests in Econometrics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1251-71, November.
    17. Dushnitsky, Gary & Lenox, Michael J., 2005. "When do incumbents learn from entrepreneurial ventures?: Corporate venture capital and investing firm innovation rates," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 615-639, June.
    18. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, 2000. "The Firm as a Dedicated Hierarchy: A Theory of the Origin and Growth of Firms," NBER Working Papers 7546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Kaplan, Steven N. & Strömberg, Per, 2003. "Characteristics, Contracts and Actions: Evidence from Venture Capitalist Analyses," SIFR Research Report Series 14, Institute for Financial Research.
    20. Bergman, Nittai K. & Jenter, Dirk, 2007. "Employee sentiment and stock option compensation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 667-712, June.
    21. Brian J. Hall & Kevin J. Murphy, 2003. "The Trouble with Stock Options," NBER Working Papers 9784, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Samuel Kortum & Josh Lerner, 2000. "Assessing the Contribution of Venture Capital to Innovation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(4), pages 674-692, Winter.
    23. Murphy, Kevin J., 2003. "Stock-based pay in new economy firms," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1-3), pages 129-147, January.
    24. Yermack, David, 1995. "Do corporations award CEO stock options effectively?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2-3), pages 237-269.
    25. Core, John & Guay, Wayne, 1999. "The use of equity grants to manage optimal equity incentive levels," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 151-184, December.
    26. Ittner, Christopher D. & Lambert, Richard A. & Larcker, David F., 2003. "The structure and performance consequences of equity grants to employees of new economy firms," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1-3), pages 89-127, January.
    27. George W. Fenn & Nellie Liang & Stephen Prowse, 1995. "The economics of the private equity market," Staff Studies 168, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    28. Chua, Jess H. & Woodward, Richard S., 1993. "Splitting the firm between the entrepreneur and the venture capitalist with the help of stock options," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 43-58, January.
    29. Brian J. Hall & Kevin J. Murphy, 2003. "The Trouble with Stock Options," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 49-70, Summer.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jbvent:v:23:y:2008:i:4:p:385-404. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.