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The Effect of Risk Preferences on the Valuation and Incentives of Compensation Contracts

  • Pierre Chaigneau
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    We use a comparative approach to study the incentives provided by different types of compensation contracts, and their valuation by risk averse managers, in a fairly general setting. We show that concave contracts tend to provide more incentives to risk averse managers, while convex contracts tend to be more valued by prudent managers. This is because concave contracts concentrate incentives where the marginal utility of risk averse managers is highest, while convex contracts protect against downside risk. Thus, prudence can contribute to explain the prevalence of stock-options in executive compensation. We also present a condition on the utility function which enables to compare the structure of optimal contracts associated with different risk preferences.

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    Paper provided by CIRPEE in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 1209.

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    Date of creation: 2012
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:lvl:lacicr:1209
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    1. Martin Browning & Annamaria Lusardi, 1995. "Household Saving: Micro Theories and Micro Facts," Department of Economics Working Papers 1995-02, McMaster University.
    2. 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, 02.
    3. Keenan, Donald C. & Snow, Arthur, 2010. "Greater prudence and greater downside risk aversion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(5), pages 2018-2026, September.
    4. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Jonathan A. Parker, 2001. "The Empirical Importance of Precautionary Saving," NBER Working Papers 8107, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Sanford J Grossman & Oliver D Hart, 2001. "An Analysis of the Principal-Agent Problem," Levine's Working Paper Archive 391749000000000339, David K. Levine.
    6. Brian J. Hall & Kevin J. Murphy, 2000. "Optimal Exercise Prices for Executive Stock Options," NBER Working Papers 7548, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Brian J. Hall & Kevin J. Murphy, 2000. "Stock Options for Undiversified Executives," NBER Working Papers 8052, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Maug, Ernst & Dittmann, Ingolf, 2007. "Lower Salaries and No Options: The Optimal Structure of Executive Pay," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 07-41, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
    9. Jenter, Dirk, 2004. "Executive Compensation, Incentives, and Risk," Working papers 4466-02, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    10. W Henry Chiu, 2010. "Skewness Preference, Risk Taking and Expected Utility Maximisation," The Geneva Risk and Insurance Review, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 35(2), pages 108-129, December.
    11. 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.
    12. Kraus, Alan & Litzenberger, Robert H, 1976. "Skewness Preference and the Valuation of Risk Assets," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 31(4), pages 1085-1100, September.
    13. Scott, Robert C & Horvath, Philip A, 1980. " On the Direction of Preference for Moments of Higher Order Than the Variance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 35(4), pages 915-19, September.
    14. Stephen A. Ross, 2004. "Compensation, Incentives, and the Duality of Risk Aversion and Riskiness," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(1), pages 207-225, 02.
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