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CEO Pay and Firm Performance: Dynamics, Asymmetries, and Alternative Performance Measures

  • Paul L. Joskow
  • Nancy L. Rose

This study explores the dynamic structure of the pay-for- performance relationship in CEO compensation and quantifies the effect of introducing a more complex model of firm financial performance on the estimated performance sensitivity of executive pay. The results suggest that current compensation responds to past performance outcomes, but that the effect decays considerably within two years. This contrasts sharply with models of infinitely persistent performance effects implicitly assumed in much of the empirical compensation literature. We find that both accounting and market performance measures influence compensation and that the salary and bonus component of pay as well as total compensation have become more sensitive to firm financial performance over the past two decades. There is no evidence that boards fail to penalize CEOs for poor financial performance or reward them disproportionately well for good performance. Finally, the data suggest that boards may discount extreme performance outcomes -both high and low - relative to performance that lies within some `normal' band in setting compensation.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w4976.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4976.

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Date of creation: Dec 1994
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4976
Note: IO
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  1. Bengt Holmstrom, 1997. "Moral Hazard and Observability," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1205, David K. Levine.
  2. Gibbons, R. & Murphy, K.J., 1990. "Optimal Incentive Contracts In The Presence Of Career Concerns: Theory And Evidence," Working papers 563, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Gibbons, R. & Murphy, K.J., 1989. "Relative Performance Evaluation For Chief Executive Officers," Working papers 532, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  4. Joskow, Paul L. & Rose, Nancy L. & Shepard, Andrea., 1993. "Regulatory constraints on executive compensation," Working papers 3550-93., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  5. Barro, Jason R & Barro, Robert J, 1990. "Pay, Performance, and Turnover of Bank CEOs," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(4), pages 448-81, October.
  6. Nancy L. Rose & Andrea Shepard, 1994. "Firm Diversification and CEO Compensation: Managerial Ability or Executive Entrenchment?," NBER Working Papers 4723, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Steven N. Kaplan, 1992. "Top Executive Rewards and Firm Performance: A Comparison of Japan and the U.S," NBER Working Papers 4065, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Jensen, Michael C & Murphy, Kevin J, 1990. "Performance Pay and Top-Management Incentives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(2), pages 225-64, April.
  9. Richard A. Lambert, 1983. "Long-Term Contracts and Moral Hazard," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(2), pages 441-452, Autumn.
  10. R. Glenn Hubbard & Darius Palia, 1994. "Executive Pay and Performance: Evidence from the U.S. Banking Industry," NBER Working Papers 4704, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Sherwin Rosen, 1990. "Contracts and the Market for Executives," NBER Working Papers 3542, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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