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Why Do Some Firms Give Stock Options To All Employees?: An Empirical Examination of Alternative Theories

  • Oyer, Paul

    (Stanford U)

  • Schaefer, Scott

    (Northwestern U)

Many firms issue stock options to all employees. We consider three potential economic justifications for this practice: providing incentives to employees, inducing employees to sort, and helping firms retain employees. We gather data on firms' stock option grant to middle managers from three distinct sources, and use two methods to assess which theories appear to explain observed granting behavior. First, we directly calibrate models of incentives, sorting and retention, and ask whether observed magnitudes of option grants are consistent with each potential explanation. Second, we conduct a cross-sectional regression analysis of firms option-granting choices. We reject an incentives-based explanation for broad-based stock option plans, and conclude that sorting and retention explanations appear consistent with the data.

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Paper provided by Stanford University, Graduate School of Business in its series Research Papers with number 1772r.

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Date of creation: Feb 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:1772r
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  1. James C. Sesil & Maya K. Kroumova & Joseph R. Blasi & Douglas L. Kruse, 2002. "Broad-based Employee Stock Options in US 'New Economy' Firms," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 40(2), pages 273-294, 06.
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  11. Bengt Holmstrom & Paul R. Milgrom, 1985. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 742, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
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  15. 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.
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  17. Rajesh K. Aggarwal & Andrew A. Samwick, 2003. "Performance Incentives within Firms: The Effect of Managerial Responsibility," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 58(4), pages 1613-1650, 08.
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  21. Carter, Mary Ellen & Lynch, Luann J., 2004. "The effect of stock option repricing on employee turnover," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 91-112, February.
  22. Hamid Mehran & Joseph Tracy, 2001. "The effect of employee stock options on the evolution of compensation in the 1990s," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Dec, pages 17-34.
  23. McDonald, Robert L., 2004. "The tax (dis)advantage of a firm issuing options on its own stock," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(5), pages 925-955, April.
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