IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/7124.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Executive Compensation: Six Questions that Need Answering

Author

Listed:
  • John M. Abowd
  • David S. Kaplan

Abstract

In this article, we focus on how recent research advances can be used to address the following six questions: (1) How much does executive compensation cost the firm? (2) How much is executive compensation worth to the recipient? (3) How well does executive compensation work? (4) What are the effects of executive compensation? (5) How much executive compensation is enough? (6) Could executive compensation be improved? We stress the formal link between executive pay and performance that is provided by stock options and equivalent forms of long term compensation. We compare executive compensation in 12 OECD countries for the period from 1984-1996. There are good reasons why the answers to the first two questions are different. Executive compensation research should be very careful to distinguish the concepts of employer cost and the value to the executive. Agency theory remains the only viable candidate for answering the question about how executive compensation works but the empirical research to date cannot explain very much about the structure of the optimal contract. For this reason, it is also hard to answer the questions about the effects of executive compensation and the adequacy of the amounts of executive compensation, although it is clear that companies can provide both too little and too much contingent compensation, in the context of agency theory. We suggest two fertile areas for research regarding the improvement of executive compensation.

Suggested Citation

  • John M. Abowd & David S. Kaplan, 1999. "Executive Compensation: Six Questions that Need Answering," NBER Working Papers 7124, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7124
    Note: LS
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w7124.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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 448-481, October.
    2. 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.
    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. 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.
    5. Ciscel, David H & Carroll, Thomas M, 1980. "The Determinants of Executive Salaries: An Econometric Survey," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 62(1), pages 7-13, February.
    6. 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.
    7. Larcker, David F., 1983. "The association between performance plan adoption and corporate capital investment," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 3-30, April.
    8. John R. Deckop, 1988. "Determinants of Chief Executive Officer Compensation," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 41(2), pages 215-226, January.
    9. John M. Abowd & Michael Bognanno, 1995. "International Differences in Executive and Managerial Compensation," NBER Chapters,in: Differences and Changes in Wage Structures, pages 67-104 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Cuny, Charles J. & Jorion, Philippe, 1995. "Valuing executive stock options with endogenous departure," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 193-205, September.
    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. Black, Fischer & Scholes, Myron S, 1973. "The Pricing of Options and Corporate Liabilities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 637-654, May-June.
    13. Garen, John E, 1994. "Executive Compensation and Principal-Agent Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1175-1199, December.
    14. Lawrence M. Kahn & Peter D. Sherer, 1990. "Contingent Pay and Managerial Performance," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 107-1-120-, April.
    15. 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.
    16. Murphy, Kevin J., 1999. "Executive compensation," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 38, pages 2485-2563 Elsevier.
    17. Jonathan S. Leonard, 1990. "Executive Pay and Firm Performance," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 13, April.
    18. John M. Abowd, 1990. "Does Performance-Based Managerial Compensation Affect Corporate Performance?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 52, April.
    19. Masson, Robert Tempest, 1971. "Executive Motivations, Earnings, and Consequent Equity Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(6), pages 1278-1292, Nov.-Dec..
    20. Holthausen, Robert W. & Larcker, David F. & Sloan, Richard G., 1995. "Annual bonus schemes and the manipulation of earnings," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 29-74, February.
    21. 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.
    22. 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.
    23. Hallock, Kevin F, 1998. "Layoffs, Top Executive Pay, and Firm Performance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 711-723, September.
    24. Gibbons, R. & Murphy, K.J., 1989. "Relative Performance Evaluation For Chief Executive Officers," Working papers 532, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    25. Tehranian, Hassan & Waegelein, James F., 1985. "Market reaction to short-term executive compensation plan adoption," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(1-3), pages 131-144, April.
    26. Healy, Paul M., 1985. "The effect of bonus schemes on accounting decisions," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(1-3), pages 85-107, April.
    27. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • G3 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Lists

    This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
    1. Employee stock option in Wikipedia English ne '')

    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:7124. 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: 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.