IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

CEO Power and Compensation in Financially Distressed Firms


  • Qiang Kang

    () (Department of Finance, University of Miami)

  • Oscar A. Mitnik

    () (Department of Economics, University of Miami)


We study the changes in CEO power and compensation that arise when firms go through financial distress. We use a matching estimator to identify suitable controls and estimate the causal effects of financial distress for a sample of U.S. public companies from 1992 to 2005. We document that, relative to those in control firms, the CEOs of distressed firms experience significant reductions in total compensation; the bulk of this reduction derives from the decline in value of new grants of stock options. These results hold not only for incumbent CEOs but also, surprisingly, for newly hired CEOs. Financial distress has important consequences on corporate governance, decreasing managerial influence over the board. We find that, among distressed firms, there is a significant decrease in the proportion of CEOs holding board chairmanship, and in the fractions of executives serving as directors or in the compensation committee of the board. We also show that periods of financial distress are associated with a decrease in opportunistic timing behavior of stock option awards. The results are suggestive of a link between managerial power and executive compensation.

Suggested Citation

  • Qiang Kang & Oscar A. Mitnik, 2009. "CEO Power and Compensation in Financially Distressed Firms," Working Papers 2010-2, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mia:wpaper:2010-2

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: First version, 2009
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    CEO compensation; financial distress; lucky grants; managerial influence; bias-corrected matching estimators;

    JEL classification:

    • G30 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - General
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    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:mia:wpaper:2010-2. 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: (Christopher Parmeter). General contact details of provider: .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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.

    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.