IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/18395.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Executive Compensation and Corporate Governance in the U.S.: Perceptions, Facts and Challenges

Author

Listed:
  • Steven N. Kaplan

Abstract

In this paper, I consider the evidence for three common perceptions of U.S. public company CEO pay and corporate governance: (1) CEOs are overpaid and their pay keeps increasing; (2) CEOs are not paid for their performance; and (3) boards do not penalize CEOs for poor performance. While average CEO pay increased substantially through the 1990s, it has declined since then. CEO pay levels relative to other highly paid groups today are comparable to their average levels in the early 1990s although they remain above their long-term historical average. The ratio of large-company CEO pay to firm market value is roughly similar to its level in the late-1970s and lower than its pre-1960s levels. These patterns suggest that similar forces, likely technology and scale, have played a meaningful role in driving CEO pay and the pay of others with top incomes. With regard to performance, CEOs are paid for performance and penalized for poor performance. Finally, boards do monitor CEOs. The rate of CEO turnover has increased in the 2000s compared to the 1980s and 1990s, and is significantly tied to poor stock performance. While corporate governance failures and pay outliers as well as the very high average pay levels relative to the typical household undoubtedly have contributed to the common perceptions, a meaningful part of CEO pay appears to be market determined and boards do appear to monitor their CEOs. Consistent with that, top executive pay policies at over 98% of S&P 500 and Russell 3000 companies received majority shareholder support in the Dodd-Frank mandated Say-On-Pay votes in 2011.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven N. Kaplan, 2012. "Executive Compensation and Corporate Governance in the U.S.: Perceptions, Facts and Challenges," NBER Working Papers 18395, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18395
    Note: CF
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w18395.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Thomas Philippon & Ariell Reshef, 2009. "Wages and Human Capital in the U.S. Financial Industry: 1909-2006," NBER Working Papers 14644, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Carola Frydman & Raven E. Saks, 2010. "Executive Compensation: A New View from a Long-Term Perspective, 1936--2005," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(5), pages 2099-2138.
    3. Martin J. Conyon & John E. Core & Wayne R. Guay, 2011. "Are U.S. CEOs Paid More Than U.K. CEOs? Inferences from Risk-adjusted Pay," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 24(2), pages 402-438.
    4. Jonathan A. Parker & Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2010. "The Increase in Income Cyclicality of High-Income Households and Its Relation to the Rise in Top Income Shares," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 41(2 (Fall)), pages 1-70.
    5. Brian J. Hall & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 1998. "Are CEOs Really Paid Like Bureaucrats?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(3), pages 653-691.
    6. Jon Bakija & Adam Cole & Bradley Heim, 2008. "Jobs and Income Growth of Top Earners and the Causes of Changing Income Inequality: Evidence from U.S. Tax Return Data," Department of Economics Working Papers 2010-22, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised Jan 2012.
    7. Bizjak, John M. & Lemmon, Michael L. & Naveen, Lalitha, 2008. "Does the use of peer groups contribute to higher pay and less efficient compensation?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 152-168, November.
    8. Steven N. Kaplan & Per Stromberg, 2009. "Leveraged Buyouts and Private Equity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(1), pages 121-146, Winter.
    9. Bengt Holmstrom & Steven N. Kaplan, 2001. "Corporate Governance and Merger Activity in the United States: Making Sense of the 1980s and 1990s," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 121-144, Spring.
    10. 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.
    11. Clifford G. Holderness & Randall S. Kroszner & Dennis P. Sheehan, 1999. "Were the Good Old Days That Good? Changes in Managerial Stock Ownership Since the Great Depression," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(2), pages 435-469, April.
    12. Benjamin E. Hermalin, 2005. "Trends in Corporate Governance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(5), pages 2351-2384, October.
    13. Jenter, Dirk & Lewellen, Katharina, 2014. "Performance-Induced CEO Turnover," Research Papers 3054, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    14. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2001. "Are CEOs Rewarded for Luck? The Ones Without Principals Are," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(3), pages 901-932.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Josh Bivens & Lawrence Mishel, 2013. "The Pay of Corporate Executives and Financial Professionals as Evidence of Rents in Top 1 Percent Incomes," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 27(3), pages 57-78, Summer.
    2. Matousek, Roman & Tzeremes, Nickolaos G., 2016. "CEO compensation and bank efficiency: An application of conditional nonparametric frontiers," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 251(1), pages 264-273.
    3. Damon Morris & Ian Gregory-Smith & Brian Main & Alberto Montagnoli & Peter Wright, 2015. "The Impact of 'A - Day' on Executive Pensions and Pay for Performance," Working Papers 2015026, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.
    4. N. Gregory Mankiw, 2013. "Defending the One Percent," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 27(3), pages 21-34, Summer.
    5. Liam C. Malloy, 2016. "Do Lower Top Marginal Tax Rates Slow the Income Growth of Workers?," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 30(1), pages 61-87, March.
    6. Moritz Heimes & Steffen Seemann, 2012. "Which Pay for what Performance? Evidence from Executive Compensation in Germany and the United States," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2012-29, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
    7. Bryan, Mark & Bryson, Alex, 2016. "Has performance pay increased wage inequality in Britain?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 149-161.
    8. Pavel Srbek & Ludwig O. Dittrich, 2016. "Does a "CEO Chairman" Guarantee Better Performance from a Firm?," DANUBE: Law and Economics Review, European Association Comenius - EACO, issue 3, pages 145-160, September.
    9. repec:ucp:jpolec:doi:10.1086/693137 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Susana Álvarez-Díez & J. Baixauli-Soler & María Belda-Ruiz, 2014. "Are we using the wrong letters? An analysis of executive stock option Greeks," Central European Journal of Operations Research, Springer;Slovak Society for Operations Research;Hungarian Operational Research Society;Czech Society for Operations Research;Österr. Gesellschaft für Operations Research (ÖGOR);Slovenian Society Informatika - Section for Operational Research;Croatian Operational Research Society, vol. 22(2), pages 237-262, June.
    11. Waldenberger Franz, 2013. "“Company heroes” versus “superstars”: executive pay in Japan in comparative perspective," Contemporary Japan, De Gruyter, vol. 25(2), pages 189-213, August.
    12. Alex Edmans & Xavier Gabaix, 2016. "Executive Compensation: A Modern Primer," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(4), pages 1232-1287, December.
    13. Van Biesebroeck, Johannes., 2014. "How tight is the link between wages and productivity? : a survey of the literature," ILO Working Papers 994864443402676, International Labour Organization.
    14. Alex Bryson & John Forth & Minghai Zhou, 2014. "Same or Different? The CEO Labour Market in China's Public Listed Companies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(574), pages 90-108, February.
    15. Gersbach, Hans & Schmutzler, Armin, 2014. "Does globalization create superstars? A simple theory of managerial wages," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 34-51.
    16. Alexandre Mas, 2017. "Does Transparency Lead to Pay Compression?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 125(5), pages 1683-1721.
    17. Kelly Shue & Richard Townsend, 2016. "Growth through Rigidity: An Explanation for the Rise in CEO Pay," NBER Working Papers 21975, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Seth D. Zimmerman, 2016. "Making the One Percent: The Role of Elite Universities and Elite Peers," NBER Working Papers 22900, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. repec:ilo:ilowps:486444 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Robert W. Odewale & Hasnah Kamardin, 2015. "Directors’ Remuneration Disclosure Transparency in Nigeria and the Influence of Block Share Ownership," International Journal of Business and Social Research, MIR Center for Socio-Economic Research, vol. 5(8), pages 65-78, August.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G30 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - General
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:nbr:nberwo:18395. 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: () or (Joanne Lustig). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    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.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with 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.