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Seeking Alpha: Excess Risk Taking and Competition for Managerial Talent

Author

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  • Acharya, Viral V
  • Pagano, Marco
  • Volpin, Paolo

Abstract

We present a model of labor market equilibrium in which managers are risk-averse, managerial talent (‘alpha’) is scarce, and firms seek alpha, that is, compete for this talent. When managers are not mobile across firms, firms provide efficient long-term compensation, which allows for learning about managerial talent and insures low-quality managers. In contrast, when managers can move across firms, high-quality managers can fully extract the rents arising from their skill, which prevents firms from providing co-insurance among their employees. In anticipation, risk-averse managers may churn across firms before their performance is fully learnt and thereby prevent their efficient choice of projects. The result is excessive risk-taking with pay for short-term performance and build up of long-term risks. We conclude with analysis of policies to address the resulting inefficiency in firms' compensation.

Suggested Citation

  • Acharya, Viral V & Pagano, Marco & Volpin, Paolo, 2012. "Seeking Alpha: Excess Risk Taking and Competition for Managerial Talent," CEPR Discussion Papers 8905, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8905
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    executive compensation; managerial talent; managerial turnover; short-termism;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods

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