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Technological Change and the Growing Inequality in Managerial Compensation

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  • Hanno Lustig
  • Chad Syverson
  • Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh

Abstract

Three of the most fundamental changes in US corporations since the early 1970s have been (1) the increased importance of organizational capital in production, (2) the increase in managerial income inequality and pay-performance sensitivity, and (3) the secular decrease in labor market reallocation. Our paper develops a simple explanation for these changes: a shift in the composition of productivity growth away from vintage-specific to general growth. This shift has stimulated the accumulation of organizational capital in existing firms and reduced the need for reallocating workers to new firms. We characterize the optimal managerial compensation contract when firms accumulate organizational capital but risk-averse managers cannot commit to staying with the firm. A calibrated version of the model reproduces the increase in managerial compensation inequality and the increased sensitivity of pay to performance in the data over the last three decades.

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  • Hanno Lustig & Chad Syverson & Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, 2009. "Technological Change and the Growing Inequality in Managerial Compensation," NBER Working Papers 14661, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14661
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    2. Belo, Frederico & Lin, Xiaoji, 2012. "Labor Heterogeneity and Asset Prices: The Importance of Skilled Labor," Working Paper Series 2012-25, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
    3. Geoffrey Tate & Liu Yang, 2013. "The Bright Side Of Corporate Diversification: Evidence From Internal Labor Markets," Working Papers 13-40, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
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    14. Ai, Hengjie & Li, Rui, 2015. "Investment and CEO compensation under limited commitment," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 116(3), pages 452-472.

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    JEL classification:

    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment
    • G3 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance

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