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What Fraction of Stock Option Grants to Top Executives Have Been Backdated or Manipulated?

Author

Listed:
  • Randall A. Heron

    () (Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202)

  • Erik Lie

    () (Tippie College of Business, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242)

Abstract

We estimate that 13.6% of all option grants to top executives during the period 1996-2005 were backdated or otherwise manipulated. Our study primarily focuses on grants that were unscheduled and at-the-money, of which we estimate that 18.9% were manipulated. The fraction is 23.0% before the new two-day filing requirement took effect on August 29, 2002, and 10.0% afterward. For the minority of grants that are not filed within the required two-day window, the fraction of manipulated grants remains as high as 19.9%. We further find a higher frequency of manipulation among tech firms, small firms, and firms with high stock price volatility. In addition, firms that use smaller (non-big-five) auditing firms are more likely to file their grants late. Finally, at the firm level, we estimate that 29.2% of firms manipulated grants to top executives at some point between 1996 and 2005.

Suggested Citation

  • Randall A. Heron & Erik Lie, 2009. "What Fraction of Stock Option Grants to Top Executives Have Been Backdated or Manipulated?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 55(4), pages 513-525, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:55:y:2009:i:4:p:513-525
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1080.0958
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Carola Frydman & Dirk Jenter, 2010. "CEO Compensation," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 75-102, December.
    2. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez & Stefanie Stantcheva, 2014. "Optimal Taxation of Top Labor Incomes: A Tale of Three Elasticities," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 230-271, February.
    3. Chester Spatt, 2014. "Security Market Manipulation," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 405-418, December.
    4. Carow, Kenneth & Heron, Randall & Lie, Erik & Neal, Robert, 2009. "Option grant backdating investigations and capital market discipline," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 562-572, December.
    5. Biggerstaff, Lee & Cicero, David C. & Puckett, Andy, 2015. "Suspect CEOs, unethical culture, and corporate misbehavior," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(1), pages 98-121.
    6. Jing Ai & Patrick L. Brockett & Linda L. Golden & Montserrat Guillén, 2013. "A Robust Unsupervised Method for Fraud Rate Estimation," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 80(1), pages 121-143, March.
    7. Bernile, Gennaro & Sulaeman, Johan & Wang, Qin, 2015. "Institutional trading during a wave of corporate scandals: “Perfect Payday”?," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 191-209.
    8. Armstrong, Christopher S. & Guay, Wayne R. & Weber, Joseph P., 2010. "The role of information and financial reporting in corporate governance and debt contracting," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2-3), pages 179-234, December.
    9. Bebchuk, Lucian A. & Cremers, K.J. Martijn & Peyer, Urs C., 2011. "The CEO pay slice," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(1), pages 199-221, October.
    10. Ertimur, Yonca & Ferri, Fabrizio & Maber, David A., 2012. "Reputation penalties for poor monitoring of executive pay: Evidence from option backdating," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(1), pages 118-144.
    11. Augustin Landier & David Thesmar, 2011. "Regulating Systemic Risk through Transparency: Trade-Offs in Making Data Public," NBER Chapters,in: Risk Topography: Systemic Risk and Macro Modeling, pages 31-44 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Blacconiere, Walter G. & Frederickson, James R. & Johnson, Marilyn F. & Lewis, Melissa F., 2011. "Are voluntary disclosures that disavow the reliability of mandated fair value information informative or opportunistic?," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 235-251.
    13. Goergen, Marc & Renneboog, Luc, 2011. "Managerial compensation," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 1068-1077, September.
    14. Chris Veld & Betty H.T. Wu, 2014. "What Drives Executive Stock Option Backdating?," Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(7-8), pages 1042-1070, September.
    15. Compton, Ryan & Sandler, Daniel & Tedds, Lindsay M., 2010. "Backdating, tax evasion, and the unintended consequences of Canadian tax reform," MPRA Paper 39788, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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