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The structure of CEO pay: pay-for-luck and stock-options

  • Pierre Chaigneau
  • Nicolas Sahuguet

We develop a stylized model of efficient contracting in which firms compete for CEOs. The optimal contracts are designed to retain and insure CEOs. The retention motive explains pay-for-luck in executive compensation, while the insurance feature explains asymmetric pay-for-luck. We show that the optimal contract can be implemented with stock- options based on a single performance measure which does not filter out luck. When the capacity to dismiss underperforming CEOs differs across firms, and the ability of different CEOs is more or less precisely estimated ex-ante, endogenous matching between CEOs and firms can explain the observed association between pay-for-luck and bad corporate governance. The model also predicts that an improvement in the governance of badly governed firms has spillover effects that increase CEO pay in all firms.

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Paper provided by Financial Markets Group in its series FMG Discussion Papers with number dp713.

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Handle: RePEc:fmg:fmgdps:dp713
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  1. Cuñat, Vicente & Gine, Mireia & Guadalupe, Maria, 2013. "Say Pays! Shareholder Voice and Firm Performance," MPRA Paper 48489, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Patrick Legros & Andrew F. Newman, 2002. "Beauty is a Beast, Frog is a Prince: Assortative Matching with Nontransferabilities," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-149, Boston University - Department of Economics, revised Nov 2004.
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  12. Bengt Holmstrom & Steven N. Kaplan, 2001. "Corporate Governance and Merger Activity in the U.S.: Making Sense of the 1980s and 1990s," NBER Working Papers 8220, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Vicente Cuñat & Maria Guadalupe, 2009. "Globalization and the provision of incentives inside the firm: The effect of foreign competition," Economics Working Papers 1134, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  14. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2001. "Are Ceos Rewarded For Luck? The Ones Without Principals Are," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(3), pages 901-932, August.
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  16. Radhakrishnan Gopalan & Todd Milbourn & Fenghua Song, 2010. "Strategic Flexibility and the Optimality of Pay for Sector Performance," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(5), pages 2060-2098.
  17. HOLMSTROM, Bengt, . "Moral hazard and observability," CORE Discussion Papers RP -379, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  18. Lucian A. Taylor, 2010. "Why Are CEOs Rarely Fired? Evidence from Structural Estimation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 65(6), pages 2051-2087, December.
  19. Benjamin E. Hermalin & Michael S. Weisbach, 1996. "Endogenously Chosen Boards of Directors and Their Monitoring of the CEO," Microeconomics 9602001, EconWPA, revised 09 Oct 1996.
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  22. Oyer, Paul, 2001. "Why Do Firms Use Incentives That Have No Incentive Effects?," Research Papers 1686, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  23. 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.
  24. Kevin J. Murphy & Ján Zábojník, 2004. "CEO Pay and Appointments: A Market-Based Explanation for Recent Trends," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 192-196, May.
  25. Xavier Gabaix & Augustin Landier, 2006. "Why Has CEO Pay Increased So Much?," NBER Working Papers 12365, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Fabio Feriozzi, 2011. "Paying for observable luck," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 42(2), pages 387-415, 06.
  27. Florian Hoffmann & Sebastian Pfeil, 2010. "Reward for Luck in a Dynamic Agency Model," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(9), pages 3329-3345.
  28. Shivaram Rajgopal & Terry Shevlin & Valentina Zamora, 2006. "CEOs' Outside Employment Opportunities and the Lack of Relative Performance Evaluation in Compensation Contracts," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(4), pages 1813-1844, 08.
  29. Burkart, Mike & Gromb, Denis & Panunzi, Fausto, 1997. "Large Shareholders, Monitoring, and the Value of the Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 693-728, August.
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