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

Are CEOs Really Paid Like Bureaucrats?

  • Brian J. Hall
  • Jeffrey B. Liebman

A common view is that there is little correlation between firm performance and CEO pay. Using a new fifteen-year panel data set of CEOs in the largest, publicly traded U.S. companies, we document a strong relationship between firm performance and CEO compensation. This relationship is generated almost entirely by changes in the value of CEO holdings of stock and stock options. In addition, we show that both the level of CEO compensation and the sensitivity of compensation to firm performance have risen dramatically since 1980, largely because of increases in stock option grants. © 2000 the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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:;1-
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 MIT Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 113 (1998)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 653-691

in new window

Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:113:y:1998:i:3:p:653-691
Contact details of provider: Web page:

Order Information: Web:

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. John Y. Campbell & John H. Cochrane, 1994. "By force of habit: a consumption-based explanation of aggregate stock market behavior," Working Papers 94-17, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  2. Baker, G.P. & Jensen, M.C. & Murphy, K.J., 1988. "Compensation And Incentives: Practice Vs. Theory," Papers 88-05, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
  3. Weisbach, Michael S., 1988. "Outside directors and CEO turnover," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1-2), pages 431-460, January.
  4. Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 1989. "Relative Performance Evaluation for Chief Executive Officers," NBER Working Papers 2944, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Joseph G. Haubrich, 1991. "Risk aversion, performance pay, and the principal-agent problem," Working Paper 9118, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  6. Coughlan, Anne T. & Schmidt, Ronald M., 1985. "Executive compensation, management turnover, and firm performance : An empirical investigation," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(1-3), pages 43-66, April.
  7. Daniel Feenberg & James Poterba, 1992. "Income Inequality and the Incomes of Very High Income Taxpayers: Evidence from Tax Returns," NBER Working Papers 4229, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Joskow, Paul L. & Rose, Nancy L. & Shepard, Andrea., 1993. "Regulatory constraints on executive compensation," Working papers 3550-93., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  9. Gilson, Stuart C & Vetsuypens, Michael R, 1993. " CEO Compensation in Financially Distressed Firms: An Empirical Analysis," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 48(2), pages 425-58, June.
  10. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 1995. "The equity premium: it's still a puzzle," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 102, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  11. Dial, Jay & Murphy, Kevin J., 1995. "Incentives, downsizing, and value creation at General Dynamics," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 261-314, March.
  12. Sloan, Richard G., 1993. "Accounting earnings and top executive compensation," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1-3), pages 55-100, April.
  13. Stephen G. Cecchetti & Pok-sang Lam & Nelson C. Clark, 1991. "The Equity Premium and the Risk Free Rate: Matching the Moments," NBER Working Papers 3752, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 1991. "Optimal Incentive Contracts in the Presence of Career Concerns: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 3792, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Jensen, M.C. & Murphy, K.J., 1988. "Performance Pay And Top Management Incentives," Papers 88-04, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
  16. Wilbur G. Lewellen, 1968. "Executive Compensation in Large Industrial Corporations," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number lewe68-1, July.
  17. Kevin J. Murphy, 1986. "Incentives, Learning, and Compensation: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation of Managerial Labor Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(1), pages 59-76, Spring.
  18. Bruce A. Rayton, 1994. "Are CEOs the Only Residual Claimants? Estimation of the Performance Elasticity of Per-Employee Compensation," Industrial Organization 9412001, EconWPA, revised 16 Jun 1995.
  19. Bengt Holmstrom, 1997. "Moral Hazard and Observability," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1205, David K. Levine.
  20. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-64, October.
  21. Sherwin Rosen, 1990. "Contracts and the Market for Executives," NBER Working Papers 3542, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Paul L. Joskow & Nancy L. Rose, 1994. "CEO Pay and Firm Performance: Dynamics, Asymmetries, and Alternative Performance Measures," NBER Working Papers 4976, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. 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.
  24. Murphy, Kevin J., 1985. "Corporate performance and managerial remuneration : An empirical analysis," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(1-3), pages 11-42, April.
  25. Kaplan, Steven N, 1994. "Top Executive Rewards and Firm Performance: A Comparison of Japan and the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(3), pages 510-46, June.
  26. Fama, Eugene F. & Jensen, Michael C., 1985. "Organizational forms and investment decisions," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 101-119, March.
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:tpr:qjecon:v:113:y:1998:i:3:p:653-691. 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: (Anna Pollock-Nelson)

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.