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How Much Sunlight Does it Take to Disinfect a Boardroom? A Short History of Executive Compensation Regulation

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  • Ian Dew-Becker

Abstract

This paper reviews the history of executive compensation disclosure and other government policies affecting CEO pay, and as well surveys the literature on the effects of these policies. Disclosure has increased nearly uniformly since 1933. A number of other regulations, including special taxes on CEO pay and rules regarding votes on some pay packages have also been introduced, particularly in the last 20 years. However, there is little solid evidence that any of these policies have had any substantial impact on pay. Policy changes have likely helped drive the move towards more use of stock options, but there is no conclusive evidence on how policy has otherwise affected the level or composition of pay. I also review evidence from overseas on "Say on Pay," recently proposed in the US, which would allow nonbinding shareholder votes on CEO compensation. The experiences of other countries have been positive, with tighter linkages between pay and performance and improved communication with investors. Mandatory say on pay would be beneficial in the US.

Suggested Citation

  • Ian Dew-Becker, 2008. "How Much Sunlight Does it Take to Disinfect a Boardroom? A Short History of Executive Compensation Regulation," CESifo Working Paper Series 2379, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2379
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    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp2379.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Michael Greenstone & Paul Oyer & Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2006. "Mandated Disclosure, Stock Returns, and the 1964 Securities Acts Amendments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, pages 399-460.
    2. Rafael Porta & Florencio Lopez-De-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2006. "What Works in Securities Laws?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(1), pages 1-32, February.
    3. Dew-Becker, Ian & Gordon, Robert J, 2005. "Where did the Productivity Growth Go? Inflation Dynamics and the Distribution of Income," CEPR Discussion Papers 5419, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Lo, Kin, 2003. "Economic consequences of regulated changes in disclosure: the case of executive compensation," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 285-314, August.
    5. Michael C. Jensen, 2010. "The Modern Industrial Revolution, Exit, and the Failure of Internal Control Systems," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 22(1), pages 43-58.
    6. Carhart, Mark M, 1997. " On Persistence in Mutual Fund Performance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(1), pages 57-82, March.
    7. Park, Yun W & Nelson, Toni & Huson, Mark R, 2001. "Executive Pay and the Disclosure Environment: Canadian Evidence," Journal of Financial Research, Southern Finance Association;Southwestern Finance Association, vol. 24(3), pages 347-365, Fall.
    8. Yun W. Park & Toni Nelson & Mark R. Huson, 2001. "Executive Pay And The Disclosure Environment: Canadian Evidence," Journal of Financial Research, Southern Finance Association;Southwestern Finance Association, vol. 24(3), pages 347-365, September.
    9. Ian Dew-Becker & Robert J. Gordon, 2005. "Where Did Productivity Growth Go? Inflation Dynamics and the Distribution of Income," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 36(2), pages 67-150.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Dietl Helmut M & Duschl Tobias & Lang Markus, 2011. "Executive Pay Regulation: What Regulators, Shareholders, and Managers Can Learn from Major Sports Leagues," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, pages 1-32.
    2. Dietl, Helmut M. & Grossmann, Martin & Lang, Markus & Wey, Simon, 2013. "Incentive effects of bonus taxes in a principal-agent model," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, pages 93-104.
    3. Dittmann, Ingolf & Maug, Ernst & Zhang, Dan, 2011. "Restricting CEO pay," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 1200-1220, September.
    4. Manoj Atolia & Yoshinori Kurokawa, 2014. "Entry Costs, Task Variety, and Skill Flexibility: A Simple Theory of (Top) Income Skewness," Tsukuba Economics Working Papers 2014-001, Economics, Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tsukuba, revised Apr 2015.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J08 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics Policies
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • K22 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Business and Securities Law

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