IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/ehl/lserod/67674.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

CEO pay and the rise of relative performance contracts:a question of governance

Author

Listed:
  • Bell, Brian
  • Van Reenen, John

Abstract

Would moving to relative performance contracts improve the alignment between CEO pay and performance? To address this, we exploit the large rise in relative performance awards and the share of equity pay in the UK over the last two decades. Using new employer-employee matched datasets we find that the CEO pay-performance relationship remains asymmetric: pay responds more to increases in shareholders’ return performance than to decreases. Further, this asymmetry is stronger when governance appears weak. Second, there is substantial “pay-for-luck” as remuneration increases with random positive shocks, even when the CEO has equity awards that explicitly condition on firm performance relative to peer firms in the same sector. A reason why relative performance pay fails to deal with pay for luck is that CEOs who fail to meet the terms of their past performance awards are able to obtain more generous new equity rewards in the future. Moreover, this “compensation effect” is stronger when the firm has weak corporate governance. These findings suggest that reforms to the formal structure of CEO pay contracts are unlikely to align incentives in the absence of strong shareholder governance.

Suggested Citation

  • Bell, Brian & Van Reenen, John, 2016. "CEO pay and the rise of relative performance contracts:a question of governance," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 67674, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:67674
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/67674/
    File Function: Open access version.
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Xavier Gabaix & Augustin Landier, 2008. "Why has CEO Pay Increased So Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 49-100.
    2. Rajesh K. Aggarwal & Andrew A. Samwick, 1999. "The Other Side of the Trade-off: The Impact of Risk on Executive Compensation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 65-105, February.
    3. David Card & Francesco Devicienti & Agata Maida, 2014. "Rent-sharing, Holdup, and Wages: Evidence from Matched Panel Data," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(1), pages 84-111.
    4. Luigi Guiso & Luigi Pistaferri & Fabiano Schivardi, 2005. "Insurance within the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(5), pages 1054-1087, October.
    5. John Calhoun Baker, 1939. "Executive Compensation Payments by Large and Small Industrial Companies," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(3), pages 404-434.
    6. Ian Gregory‐Smith & Steve Thompson & Peter W. Wright, 2009. "Fired or Retired? A Competing Risks Analysis of Chief Executive Turnover," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(536), pages 463-481, March.
    7. Ryan, Harley Jr. & Wiggins, Roy III, 2004. "Who is in whose pocket? Director compensation, board independence, and barriers to effective monitoring," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 497-524, September.
    8. Dirk Jenter & Fadi Kanaan, 2015. "CEO Turnover and Relative Performance Evaluation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 70(5), pages 2155-2184, October.
    9. Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itskhoki & Stephen Redding, 2010. "Inequality and Unemployment in a Global Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(4), pages 1239-1283, July.
    10. Benjamin E. Hermalin & Michael S. Weisbach, 2012. "Information Disclosure and Corporate Governance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 67(1), pages 195-234, February.
    11. John A. Abowd & Thomas Lemieux, 1993. "The Effects of Product Market Competition on Collective Bargaining Agreements: The Case of Foreign Competition in Canada," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(4), pages 983-1014.
    12. Marianne Bertrand, 2004. "From the Invisible Handshake to the Invisible Hand? How Import Competition Changes the Employment Relationship," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(4), pages 723-766, October.
    13. Jensen, Michael C & Murphy, Kevin J, 1990. "Performance Pay and Top-Management Incentives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(2), pages 225-264, April.
    14. Bengt Holmstrom, 1982. "Moral Hazard in Teams," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 324-340, Autumn.
    15. Brian J. Hall & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 1998. "Are CEOs Really Paid Like Bureaucrats?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(3), pages 653-691.
    16. Garvey, Gerald T. & Milbourn, Todd T., 2006. "Asymmetric benchmarking in compensation: Executives are rewarded for good luck but not penalized for bad," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 197-225, October.
    17. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1987. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 303-328, March.
    18. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald & Peter Sanfey, 1996. "Wages, Profits, and Rent-Sharing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(1), pages 227-251.
    19. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2001. "Are CEOs Rewarded for Luck? The Ones Without Principals Are," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(3), pages 901-932.
    20. Jarrad Harford & Kai Li, 2007. "Decoupling CEO Wealth and Firm Performance: The Case of Acquiring CEOs," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(2), pages 917-949, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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


    Cited by:

    1. Lucas W. Davis and Catherine Hausman, 2020. "Are Energy Executives Rewarded for Luck?," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 6), pages 157-180.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Alex Edmans & Xavier Gabaix, 2016. "Executive Compensation: A Modern Primer," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(4), pages 1232-1287, December.
    2. Alex Edmans & Tom Gosling & Dirk Jenter, 2021. "CEO Compensation: Evidence from the Field," CESifo Working Paper Series 9162, CESifo.
    3. Albuquerque, Ana, 2009. "Peer firms in relative performance evaluation," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 69-89, October.
    4. Oyer, Paul & Schaefer, Scott, 2011. "Personnel Economics: Hiring and Incentives," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 20, pages 1769-1823, Elsevier.
    5. Carola Frydman & Dirk Jenter, 2010. "CEO Compensation," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 75-102, December.
    6. Dirk Jenter & Fadi Kanaan, 2015. "CEO Turnover and Relative Performance Evaluation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 70(5), pages 2155-2184, October.
    7. Ryan T. Ball & Jonathan Bonham & Thomas Hemmer, 2020. "Does it pay to ‘Be Like Mike’? Aspiratonal peer firms and relative performance evaluation," Review of Accounting Studies, Springer, vol. 25(4), pages 1507-1541, December.
    8. Bizjak, John M. & Lemmon, Michael L. & Naveen, Lalitha, 2008. "Does the use of peer groups contribute to higher pay and less efficient compensation?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 152-168, November.
    9. Reza, Syed Walid, 2020. "Profit skimming, asymmetric benchmarking, or the effects of implicit incentives? Evidence from natural disasters," Journal of Multinational Financial Management, Elsevier, vol. 57.
    10. repec:hrv:faseco:34651704 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. DeMarzo, Peter & Kaniel, Ron, 2016. "Relative Pay for Non-Relative Performance: Keeping up with the Joneses with Optimal Contracts," CEPR Discussion Papers 11538, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Yaowen Shan & Terry Walter, 2016. "Towards a Set of Design Principles for Executive Compensation Contracts," Abacus, Accounting Foundation, University of Sydney, vol. 52(4), pages 619-684, December.
    13. Chongwoo Choe & Gloria Tian & Xiangkang Yin, 2008. "Managerial Power, Stock-Based Compensation, And Firm Performance: Theory And Evidence," Monash Economics Working Papers 21/08, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    14. Alex Edmans & Xavier Gabaix & Augustin Landier, 2007. "A Calibratable Model of Optimal CEO Incentives in Market Equilibrium," NBER Working Papers 13372, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Miguel Antón & Florian Ederer & Mireia Giné & Martin Schmalz, 2016. "Common Ownership, Competition, and Top Management Incentives," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 2046R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Oct 2017.
    16. Vicente Cuñat & Maria Guadalupe, 2009. "Globalization and the Provision of Incentives inside the Firm: The Effect of Foreign Competition," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(2), pages 179-212, April.
    17. Jeremy Bertomeu & Edwige Cheynel & Michelle Liu‐Watts, 2018. "Are the Fama French factors treated as risk? Evidence from CEO compensation," European Financial Management, European Financial Management Association, vol. 24(5), pages 728-774, November.
    18. Brian J. Hall & Thomas A. Knox, 2002. "Managing Option Fragility," NBER Working Papers 9059, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Stanimir Morfov & Manuel Santos, 2017. "A Model of Managerial Talent: Addressing Some Puzzles in CEO Compensation," Working Papers 2017-03, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
    20. Carola Frydman & Raven E. Saks, 2010. "Executive Compensation: A New View from a Long-Term Perspective, 1936--2005," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(5), pages 2099-2138.
    21. Page, T. Beau, 2018. "CEO attributes, compensation, and firm value: Evidence from a structural estimation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(2), pages 378-401.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    CEO; pay; incentives; equity plans;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G30 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - General
    • 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

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:ehl:lserod:67674. 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: https://edirc.repec.org/data/lsepsuk.html .

    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 bibliographic 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.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: LSERO Manager (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/lsepsuk.html .

    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.