IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

The Ethics of Hedging by Executives

  • Lee Dunham


  • Ken Washer


Registered author(s):

    Executives of many publicly held firms agree to compensation packages that create immense exposure to their employer’s stock. Corporate boards, aspiring to motivate executives to make value-maximizing decisions, often tie an executive’s earnings to stock price performance through stock or option awards. However, this engenders a significant ethical dilemma for many executives who are uncomfortable with sizable, firm-specific risk and desire to reduce it through hedging activities. Recent research has shown that executive hedging has become more prevalent. In essence, managers are unwinding the acute economic incentive to act in the best interest of the owners. This appears to violate the spirit of the compensation contract and from a normative standpoint, is not how executives should act. In this article, we describe how some executives are acting in regard to this issue (descriptive ethics), how they should act (normative ethics) and how they can be helped to get from what they are doing, to what they should be doing (prescriptive ethics). Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

    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:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    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 Springer in its journal Journal of Business Ethics.

    Volume (Year): 111 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 2 (December)
    Pages: 157-164

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:111:y:2012:i:2:p:157-164
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    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. 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. Paul Bolster & Don Chance & Don Rich, 1996. "Executive Equity Swaps and Corporate Insider Holdings," Financial Management, Financial Management Association, vol. 25(2), Summer.
    3. Bebchuk, Lucian Arye & Fried, Jesse, 2003. "Executive Compensation as an Agency Problem," CEPR Discussion Papers 3961, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Jie Cai & Anand M. Vijh, 2007. "Incentive Effects of Stock and Option Holdings of Target and Acquirer CEOs," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(4), pages 1891-1933, 08.
    5. Roll, Richard, 1986. "The Hubris Hypothesis of Corporate Takeovers," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(2), pages 197-216, April.
    6. Bettis, J. Carr & Bizjak, John M. & Lemmon, Michael L., 2001. "Managerial Ownership, Incentive Contracting, and the Use of Zero-Cost Collars and Equity Swaps by Corporate Insiders," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 36(03), pages 345-370, September.
    7. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
    8. Yakov Amihud & Baruch Lev, 1981. "Risk Reduction as a Managerial Motive for Conglomerate Mergers," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(2), pages 605-617, Autumn.
    9. 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.
    10. Smith, Clifford W. & Stulz, René M., 1985. "The Determinants of Firms' Hedging Policies," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(04), pages 391-405, December.
    11. Eli Ofek & David Yermack, 2000. "Taking Stock: Equity-Based Compensation and the Evolution of Managerial Ownership," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(3), pages 1367-1384, 06.
    12. Alan D. Jagolinzer & Steven R. Matsunaga & P. Eric Yeung, 2007. "An Analysis of Insiders' Use of Prepaid Variable Forward Transactions," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(5), pages 1055-1079, December.
    13. May, Don O, 1995. " Do Managerial Motives Influence Firm Risk Reduction Strategies?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1291-1308, September.
    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:kap:jbuset:v:111:y:2012:i:2:p:157-164. 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: (Sonal Shukla)

    or (Christopher F. Baum)

    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.