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Employee Stock Options Incentive Effects: A Cpt-Based Model

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  • Hamza Bahaji

    () (DRM - Dauphine Recherches en Management - Université Paris-Dauphine - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

Abstract

This paper examines the incentives from stock options for loss-averse employees subject to probability weighting. Employing the certainty equivalence principle, I built on insights from Cumulative Prospect Theory (CPT) to derive a continuous time model to value options from the perspective of a representative employee. Consistent with a growing body of empirical and experimental studies, the model predicts that the employee may overestimate the value of his options in-excess of their risk-neutral value. This is nevertheless in stark contrast with a common finding of standard models based on the Expected Utility Theory (EUT) framework that options value to a risk-averse undiversified employee is strictly lower than the value to risk-neutral outside investors. In particular, I proved that loss aversion and probability weighting have countervailing effects on the option subjective value. In addition, for typical setting of preferences parameters around the experimental estimates, and assuming the company is allowed to adjust existing compensation when making new stock option grants, the model predicts that incentives are maximized for strike prices set around the stock price at inception. This finding is consistent with companies' actual compensation practices that standard EUT-based models have difficulties accommodating their existence.

Suggested Citation

  • Hamza Bahaji, 2011. "Employee Stock Options Incentive Effects: A Cpt-Based Model," Working Papers halshs-00618477, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:halshs-00618477
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00618477
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Chip Heath & Steven Huddart & Mark Lang, 1999. "Psychological Factors and Stock Option Exercise," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 601-627.
    2. Maug, Ernst & Dittmann, Ingolf, 2007. "Lower salaries and no options : the optimal structure of executive pay
      [Lower salaries and no options? On the optimal structure of executive pay]
      ," Papers 07-41, Sonderforschungsbreich 504.
    3. Ingolf Dittmann & Ernst Maug & Oliver Spalt, 2010. "Sticks or Carrots? Optimal CEO Compensation when Managers Are Loss Averse," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 65(6), pages 2015-2050, December.
    4. Johnson, Shane A. & Tian, Yisong S., 2000. "The value and incentive effects of nontraditional executive stock option plans," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 3-34, July.
    5. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    6. Huddart, Steven & Lang, Mark, 1996. "Employee stock option exercises an empirical analysis," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 5-43, February.
    7. Vicky Henderson, 2005. "The impact of the market portfolio on the valuation, incentives and optimality of executive stock options," Quantitative Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(1), pages 35-47.
    8. Ingolf Dittmann & Ernst Maug, 2007. "Lower Salaries and No Options? On the Optimal Structure of Executive Pay," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(1), pages 303-343, February.
    9. Kevin F. Hallock & Craig Olson, 2006. "The Value of Stock Options to Non-Executive Employees," NBER Working Papers 11950, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Stock options; Cumulative Prospect Theory; Incentives; Subjective value;

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