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Benefits of Broad-based Option Pay


  • Inderst, Roman
  • Mueller, Holger M


Future wage payments drive a wedge between total firm output and the output share received by the firm’s owners, thus potentially distorting strategic decisions by the firm’s owners such as, e.g., whether to continue the firm, sell it, or shut it down. Using an optimal contracting approach, we show that the unique optimal firm-wide employee compensation scheme from this perspective is a broad-based option plan. Broad-based option pay minimizes the firm’s expected future wage payments in states of nature where the firm is only marginally profitable, thus making continuation as attractive as possible in precisely those states of nature where, e.g., a high fixed wage would lead the firm’s owners to inefficiently exit.

Suggested Citation

  • Inderst, Roman & Mueller, Holger M, 2005. "Benefits of Broad-based Option Pay," CEPR Discussion Papers 4878, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4878

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ittner, Christopher D. & Lambert, Richard A. & Larcker, David F., 2003. "The structure and performance consequences of equity grants to employees of new economy firms," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1-3), pages 89-127, January.
    2. Paul Oyer, 2004. "Why Do Firms Use Incentives That Have No Incentive Effects?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(4), pages 1619-1650, August.
    3. Oyer, Paul & Schaefer, Scott, 2005. "Why do some firms give stock options to all employees?: An empirical examination of alternative theories," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 99-133, April.
    4. Weitzman, Martin L, 1985. "The Simple Macroeconomics of Profit Sharing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 937-953, December.
    5. Yellen, Janet L, 1984. "Efficiency Wage Models of Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 200-205, May.
    6. Mike Burkart & Denis Gromb & Fausto Panunzi, 1997. "Large Shareholders, Monitoring, and the Value of the Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 693-728.
    7. Brian J. Hall & Kevin J. Murphy, 2003. "The Trouble with Stock Options," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 49-70, Summer.
    8. Innes, Robert D., 1990. "Limited liability and incentive contracting with ex-ante action choices," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 45-67, October.
    9. Brian J. Hall & Kevin J. Murphy, 2003. "The Trouble with Stock Options," NBER Working Papers 9784, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Canice Prendergast, 2002. "The Tenuous Trade-off between Risk and Incentives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(5), pages 1071-1102, October.
    11. Bergman, Nittai K. & Jenter, Dirk, 2007. "Employee sentiment and stock option compensation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 667-712, June.
    12. Paul R. Milgrom, 1981. "Good News and Bad News: Representation Theorems and Applications," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(2), pages 380-391, Autumn.
    13. Core, John E. & Guay, Wayne R., 2001. "Stock option plans for non-executive employees," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 253-287, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:10:y:2006:i:2:p:1-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Derek Jones & Panu Kalmi & Mikko Mäkinen, 2010. "The productivity effects of stock option schemes: evidence from Finnish panel data," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 67-80, February.
    3. repec:oup:revfin:v:21:y:2017:i:5:p:1805-1846. is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:oup:rfinst:v:21:y:2017:i:5:p:1805-1846. is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Broad Option Pay; Employee Stock Options;

    JEL classification:

    • 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

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