IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/6213.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Are CEOs Really Paid Like Bureaucrats?

Author

Listed:
  • Brian J. Hall
  • Jeffrey B. Liebman

Abstract

A common view of CEO compensation is that there is essentially no correlation between firm performance and CEO pay. This calls into question an important component of effective corporate governance. This zero correlation' belief is based on the widely cited result that CEO wealth rises by only $3.25 for every $1,000 increase in firm value (Jensen and Murphy, 1990b) and findings that the elasticity of CEO salary and bonus with respect to firm market value is only 0.1. We use a new 15-year panel data set of CEOs in the largest U.S. firms and focus on a broad measure of compensation' that includes changes in the value of CEO holdings of stock and stock options. We find very large pay to performance sensitivity. For example, for a moderate change in firm performance (moving from a median stock price performance to a 70th percentile performance), the compensation of the median CEO in our sample increases by more than 50 percent, which represents an increase in CEO wealth of $1.8 million. We estimate a median elasticity of CEO compensation with respect to firm value of 3.9 for 1994. This value is about 30 times larger than previous elasticity estimates that ignore the effects of changes in the value of stock stock option holdings. We also document that both the level of CEO compensation and th sensitivity of CEO compensation to firm performance have grown dramatically over the past 15 years. In our sample, the direct compensation (salary and bonus plus stock option grants) of the mean (median) CEO increased by 209 percent (136 percent) from 1980 to 1994. Because of the large increase in stock option awards and in the value of stock holdings in the past 15 years, measures of CEO pay-to-performance sensitivity increased during the period by factors of 2 to nearly 7.

Suggested Citation

  • Brian J. Hall & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 1997. "Are CEOs Really Paid Like Bureaucrats?," NBER Working Papers 6213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6213
    Note: CF LS PR
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w6213.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-864, October.
    2. Cecchetti, Stephen G. & Lam, Pok-sang & Mark, Nelson C., 1993. "The equity premium and the risk-free rate : Matching the moments," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 21-45, February.
    3. Kevin J. Murphy, 1986. "Incentives, Learning, and Compensation: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation of Managerial Labor Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(1), pages 59-76, Spring.
    4. Rosen, S., 1990. "Contracts and Market for Executives," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 90-12, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
    5. Dial, Jay & Murphy, Kevin J., 1995. "Incentives, downsizing, and value creation at General Dynamics," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 261-314, March.
    6. Haubrich, Joseph G, 1994. "Risk Aversion, Performance Pay, and the Principal-Agent Problem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(2), pages 258-276, April.
    7. 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.
    8. Paul L. Joskow & Nancy L. Rose, 1994. "CEO Pay and Firm Performance: Dynamics, Asymmetries, and Alternative Performance Measures," NBER Working Papers 4976, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Bruce A. Rayton, 1994. "Are CEOs the Only Residual Claimants? Estimation of the Performance Elasticity of Per-Employee Compensation," Industrial Organization 9412001, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 25 Mar 1996.
    10. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
    11. Kaplan, Steven N, 1994. "Top Executive Rewards and Firm Performance: A Comparison of Japan and the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(3), pages 510-546, June.
    12. John Y. Campbell & John Cochrane, 1999. "Force of Habit: A Consumption-Based Explanation of Aggregate Stock Market Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(2), pages 205-251, April.
    13. Fama, Eugene F. & Jensen, Michael C., 1985. "Organizational forms and investment decisions," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 101-119, March.
    14. Daniel R. Feenberg & James M. Poterba, 1993. "Income Inequality and the Incomes of Very High-Income Taxpayers: Evidence from Tax Returns," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 7, pages 145-177, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Paul Joskow & Nancy Rose & Andrea Shepard, 1993. "Regulatory Constraints on CEO Compensation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 24(1 Microec), pages 1-72.
    16. Murphy, Kevin J., 1985. "Corporate performance and managerial remuneration : An empirical analysis," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(1-3), pages 11-42, April.
    17. Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 1990. "Relative Performance Evaluation for Chief Executive Officers," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 30, April.
    18. Gibbons, Robert & Murphy, Kevin J, 1992. "Optimal Incentive Contracts in the Presence of Career Concerns: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 468-505, June.
    19. Gilson, Stuart C & Vetsuypens, Michael R, 1993. "CEO Compensation in Financially Distressed Firms: An Empirical Analysis," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 48(2), pages 425-458, June.
    20. Weisbach, Michael S., 1988. "Outside directors and CEO turnover," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1-2), pages 431-460, January.
    21. Coughlan, Anne T. & Schmidt, Ronald M., 1985. "Executive compensation, management turnover, and firm performance : An empirical investigation," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(1-3), pages 43-66, April.
    22. 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 225-264, April.
    23. Sloan, Richard G., 1993. "Accounting earnings and top executive compensation," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1-3), pages 55-100, April.
    24. Wilbur G. Lewellen, 1968. "Executive Compensation in Large Industrial Corporations," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number lewe68-1, November.
    25. Baker, G.P. & Jensen, M.C. & Murphy, K.J., 1988. "Compensation And Incentives: Practice Vs. Theory," Papers 88-05, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
    26. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 1996. "The Equity Premium: It's Still a Puzzle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 42-71, March.
    27. Bengt Holmstrom, 1979. "Moral Hazard and Observability," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 74-91, Spring.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. repec:eee:labchp:v:3:y:1999:i:pb:p:2485-2563 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Hubbard, R. Glenn & Palia, Darius, 1995. "Executive pay and performance Evidence from the U.S. banking industry," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 105-130, September.
    3. Renneboog, L.D.R. & Trojanowski, G., 2002. "The Managerial Labor Market and the Governance Role of Shareholder Control Structures in the UK," Discussion Paper 2002-68, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    4. 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.
    5. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1997. "A Survey of Corporate Governance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(2), pages 737-783, June.
    6. Xavier Gabaix & Augustin Landier, 2008. "Why has CEO Pay Increased So Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 49-100.
    7. repec:eee:labchp:v:3:y:1999:i:pb:p:2373-2437 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Paul L. Joskow & Nancy L. Rose, 1994. "CEO Pay and Firm Performance: Dynamics, Asymmetries, and Alternative Performance Measures," NBER Working Papers 4976, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Zhou, Xianming, 1999. "Executive compensation and managerial incentives: A comparison between Canada and the United States1," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 277-301, September.
    10. Paul L. Joskow & Nancy L. Rose & Catherine Wolfram, 1996. "Political Constraints on Executive Compensation: Evidence from the Electric Utility Industry," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(1), pages 165-182, Spring.
    11. Alex Edmans & Xavier Gabaix, 2016. "Executive Compensation: A Modern Primer," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(4), pages 1232-1287, December.
    12. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2000. "Do CEOs Set Their Own Pay? The Ones Without Principals Do," NBER Working Papers 7604, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
    14. Rajesh K. Aggarwal & Andrew A. Samwick, 1999. "Executive Compensation, Strategic Competition, and Relative Performance Evaluation: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(6), pages 1999-2043, December.
    15. Unite, Angelo A. & Sullivan, Michael J. & Brookman, Jeffrey & Majadillas, Mary Anne & Taningco, Angelo, 2008. "Executive pay and firm performance in the Philippines," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 16(5), pages 606-623, November.
    16. Alex Edmans & Xavier Gabaix & Augustin Landier, 2007. "A Calibratable Model of Optimal CEO Incentives in Market Equilibrium," NBER Working Papers 13372, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Hideaki Sakawa & Naoki Watanabel, 2008. "Relationship between Managerial Compensation and Business Performance in Japan: New Evidence Using Micro Data," Asian Economic Journal, East Asian Economic Association, vol. 22(4), pages 431-455, December.
    18. Ying Yan, 1998. "The FDICIA and bank CEOs' pay-performance relationship: an empirical investigation," Working Papers (Old Series) 9805, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    19. 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.
    20. Mehran, Hamid, 1995. "Executive compensation structure, ownership, and firm performance," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 163-184, June.
    21. Rachel Merhebi & Kerry Pattenden & Peter L. Swan & Xianming Zhou, 2006. "Australian chief executive officer remuneration: pay and performance," Accounting and Finance, Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 46(3), pages 481-497, September.
    22. David Mayers & Clifford W. Smith, 2010. "Compensation and Board Structure: Evidence From the Insurance Industry," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 77(2), pages 297-327, June.

    More about this item

    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:6213. 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: . General contact details of provider: https://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 bibliographic 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.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    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.