IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The CEO Labour Market in China's Public Listed Companies


  • Alex Bryson
  • John Forth
  • Minghai Zhou


Using panel data for all of China's public listed firms over the period 2001-2010 we examine how firms have recruited and rewarded their executives over a decade of huge growth and turbulence. CEO pay is sensitive to firm performance, although the elasticities are lower than for the United States and Europe, especially with respect to returns on assets (ROA). CEO pay rises with firm size and growth, with elasticities resembling those for the United States. We find no dramatic response to the stock market crash of 2007/08. The elasticity of pay to stock returns falls to zero after the crash, while elasticities with respect to sales and ROA remain significant. Executive cash compensation rose steeply throughout the period - in contrast to the United States. There are steep gradients in executive compensation within firms, consistent with tournament prizes, and around two-thirds of CEO appointments are internal promotions. Within-firm executive compensation rose at a faster rate than executive compensation across firms, helping to explain why CEO turnover rates declined a little over the decade. Turnover rates did not spike with the stock market crash. Privatisation and reforms to corporate governance contributed to growth in executive compensation. A picture emerges of an executive labour market in which firms are linking pay to performance and relying on incentive structures within firms to foster executive talent.

Suggested Citation

  • Alex Bryson & John Forth & Minghai Zhou, 2012. "The CEO Labour Market in China's Public Listed Companies," CEP Discussion Papers dp1148, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1148

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Giulia Faggio & Kjell G. Salvanes & John Van Reenen, 2010. "The evolution of inequality in productivity and wages: panel data evidence," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(6), pages 1919-1951, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:eme:aeapzz:s0885-333920140000015009 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Alex Bryson & John Forth & Minghai Zhou, 2014. "CEO Incentive Contracts in China: Why Does City Location Matter?," Advances in the Economic Analysis of Participatory & Labor-Managed Firms,in: International Perspectives on Participation, volume 15, pages 25-49 Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    3. Kang, Lili & Peng, Fei, 2014. "Acquisition Premiums of Executive Compensation in China: a Matching View," MPRA Paper 55766, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    executive compensation; CEOs; corporate governance; tournaments; firm-specific human capital; China;

    JEL classification:

    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • M12 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Personnel Management; Executives; Executive Compensation
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
    • P31 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Socialist Enterprises and Their Transitions

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1148. 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: (). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.