Hand in the Cookie Jar: An Experimental Investigation of Equity-based Compensation and Managerial Fraud
The use of equity-based compensation is an increasingly popular means by which to align the incentives of top management with that of the shareholders. However, recent theoretical and empirical research suggests that the use of equity-based compensation has the unintended consequence of creating the incentive to commit managerial fraud of the type being reported in the press. This paper reports experimental evidence showing that the amount of fraud committed by subjects is positively correlated with the level of equity, as is the level of effort. As well, the amount of fraud that is committed is negatively correlated with the probability of detection and subjects’ risk aversion. The experimental design permits the identification of causal relations in the directions just noted. Key Words:
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