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The Effect of Risk on the CEO Market


  • Alex Edmans
  • Xavier Gabaix


This article presents a market equilibrium model of CEO assignment, pay, and incentives under risk aversion and moral hazard. Each of the three outcomes can be summarized by a single closed-form equation. In the presence of moral hazard, assignment is distorted from positive assortative matching on firm size as firms with higher risk or disutility choose less talented CEOs. Such firms also pay higher salaries in the cross-section, but economy-wide increases in risk or the disutility of being a CEO do not affect pay. The strength of incentives depends only on the disutility of effort and is independent of risk and risk aversion. If the CEO can affect firm risk, incentives rise and are increasing in risk and risk aversion. We calibrate the losses from various forms of poor corporate governance, such as failures in monitoring and inefficiencies in CEO assignment. The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Society for Financial Studies. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail:, Oxford University Press.

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  • Alex Edmans & Xavier Gabaix, 2011. "The Effect of Risk on the CEO Market," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 24(8), pages 2822-2863.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:rfinst:v:24:y:2011:i:8:p:2822-2863

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    2. C, Loran & Eckbo, Espen & Lu, Ching-Chih, 2014. "Does Executive Compensation Reflect Default Risk?," UiS Working Papers in Economics and Finance 2014/11, University of Stavanger.
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    6. Carola Frydman & Dirk Jenter, 2010. "CEO Compensation," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 75-102, December.
    7. Xavier Gabaix & Augustin Landier & Julien Sauvagnat, 2014. "CEO Pay and Firm Size: An Update After the Crisis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(574), pages 40-59, February.
    8. Tanseli Savaser & Elif Şişli-Ciamarra, 2017. "Managerial Performance Incentives and Firm Risk during Economic Expansions and Recessions," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 21(2), pages 911-944.
    9. Vincenzo Quadrini & Ramon Marimon & Thomas Cooley, 2012. "Risky Investments with Limited Commitment," 2012 Meeting Papers 603, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    10. Peng, Lin & Röell, Ailsa A & Tang, Hongfei, 2016. "CEO Incentives: Measurement, Determinants, and Impact on Performance," CEPR Discussion Papers 11417, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Giannetti, Mariassunta, 2011. "Serial CEO incentives and the structure of managerial contracts," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 633-662, October.
    12. repec:eee:jfinec:v:125:y:2017:i:1:p:48-71 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Chaigneau, Pierre, 2013. "Risk-shifting and the regulation of bank CEOs’ compensation," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 778-789.
    14. Simona Catuogno & Sara Saggese & Fabrizia Sarto & Riccardo Viganò, 2016. "Shedding light on the aim of stock options: a literature review," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 20(2), pages 387-411, June.
    15. Pierre Chaigneau, 2012. "The Optimal Timing of CEO Compensation," Cahiers de recherche 1207, CIRPEE.
    16. Kim, E. Han & Lu, Yao, 2011. "CEO ownership, external governance, and risk-taking," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(2), pages 272-292.
    17. Gormley, Todd A. & Matsa, David A. & Milbourn, Todd, 2013. "CEO compensation and corporate risk: Evidence from a natural experiment," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 79-101.
    18. Chaigneau, Pierre & Sahuguet, Nicolas, 2013. "The effect of monitoring on CEO pay practices in a matching equilibrium," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 55405, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    19. John Thanassoulis, 2013. "Industry Structure, Executive Pay, and Short-Termism," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 59(2), pages 402-419, June.
    20. Zhiguo He & Si Li & Bin Wei & Jianfeng Yu, 2014. "Uncertainty, Risk, and Incentives: Theory and Evidence," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 60(1), pages 206-226, January.
    21. AZOUZI Mohamed Ali & JARBOUI Anis, 2013. "Why CEO Emotional Biases Affect Firm Assets Specificity Choice Bayesian Network Method: The Evidence from Tunisia," Asian Journal of Empirical Research, Asian Economic and Social Society, vol. 3(3), pages 329-350, March.
    22. Jean Canil & Bruce Rosser, 2015. "Evidence on exercise pricing in CEO option grants in two countries," Annals of Finance, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 383-410, November.

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