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Relative Performance Evaluation for Chief Executive Officers

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  • Robert Gibbons
  • Kevin J. Murphy

Abstract

Measured individual performance often depends on random factors which also affect the performances of other workers in the same firm, industry, or market. In these cases, relative performance evaluation (RPE) can provide incentives while partially insulating workers from the common uncertainty. Basing pay on relative performance, however, generates incentives to sabotage the measured performance of co-workers, to collude with co-workers and shirk, and to apply for jobs with inept co-workers. RPE contracts also are less desirable when the output of co-workers is expensive to measure or in the presence of production externalities, as in the case of team production. The purpose of this paper is to review the benefits and costs of RPE and to test for the presence of RPE in one occupation where the benefits plausibly exceed the costs: chief executive officers (CEOs). In contrast to previous research, our empirical evidence strongly supports the RPE hypothesis-CEO pay revisions and retention probabilities are positively and significantly related to firm performance, but are negatively and significantly related to industry and market performance, ceteris paribus. Our results also suggest that CEO performance is more likely to be evaluated relative to aggregate market movements than relative to industry movements.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 1989. "Relative Performance Evaluation for Chief Executive Officers," NBER Working Papers 2944, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2944
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    Cited by:

    1. Sandeep Kapur & Allan Timmermann, 2005. "Relative Performance Evaluation Contracts and Asset Market Equilibrium," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(506), pages 1077-1102, October.
    2. Egon Franck & Torsten Pudack & Christian Opitz, 2001. "Zur Funktion von Topmanagement-Beratungen als Karrieresprungsbrett für High Potentials," Working Papers 0003, University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU).
    3. Rajesh K. Aggarwal & Andrew A. Samwick, 1999. "The Other Side of the Trade-off: The Impact of Risk on Executive Compensation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 65-105, February.
    4. repec:sgh:gosnar:y:2016:i:6:p:43-68 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Grant, Simon & King, Stephen & Polak, Ben, 1996. " Information Externalities, Share-Price Based Incentives and Managerial Behaviour," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(1), pages 1-21, March.
    6. Marco Celentani & Rosa Loveira-Pazó, 2004. "What form of relative performance evaluation?," Economics Working Papers 744, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    7. Gordon Roger H., 2003. "Do Publicly Traded Corporations Act in the Public Interest?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-20, June.
    8. Felipe Balmaceda, "undated". "Compensation Methods in Competitive Labor Markets," ILADES-Georgetown University Working Papers inv118, Ilades-Georgetown University, Universidad Alberto Hurtado/School of Economics and Bussines.
    9. Leslie Eldenburg & Benjamin E. Hermalin & Michael S. Weisbach & Marta Wosinska, 2001. "Hospital Governance, Performance Objectives, and Organizational Form," NBER Working Papers 8201, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. John M. Abowd & David S. Kaplan, 1999. "Executive Compensation: Six Questions That Need Answering," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(4), pages 145-168, Fall.
    11. Felipe Balmaceda, 2002. "Compensation Methods in a Competitive Labor Market: the Role of Asymmetric Information," Documentos de Trabajo 139, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
    12. Brian J. Hall & Thomas A. Knox, 2002. "Managing Option Fragility," NBER Working Papers 9059, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G18 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • G19 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Other

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