Output-based Pay: Incentives or Sorting?
Variable pay, defined as pay that is tied to some measure of a firm's output, has become more important for executives of the typical American firm. Variable pay is usually touted as a way to provide incentives to managers whose interests may not be perfectly aligned with those of owners. The incentive justification for variable pay has well-known theoretical problems and also appears to be inconsistent with much of the data. Alternative explanations are considered. One that has not received much attention, but that is consistent with may of the facts, is selection. Managers and industry specialists may have information about a firm's prospects that is unavailable to outside investors. In order to induce managers to be truthful about prospects, owners may require managers to 'put their money where their mouths are,' forcing them to extract some of their compensation in the form of variable pay. The selection or sorting explanation is consistent with the low elasticities of pay to output that are commonly observed, with the fact that the elasticity is higher in small and new firms, and with the fact that variable pay is more prevalent in industries with very technical production technologies. It does not explain why some firms give stock options even to very low-level workers.
|Date of creation:||Nov 1999|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Richard B. Freeman & Morris M. Kleiner, 1998. "The Last American Shoe Manufacturers: Changing the Method of Pay to Survive Foreign Competition," NBER Working Papers 6750, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Edward P. Lazear & Paul Oyer, 2007.
NBER Working Papers
13480, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Edward P. Lazear, 1995. "Personnel Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262121883, December.
- Edward P. Lazear & Paul Oyer, 2012. "Personnel Economics," Introductory Chapters, in: Robert Gibbons & John Roberts (ed.), The Handbook of Organizational Economics Princeton University Press.
- Rajesh K. Aggarwal & Andrew A. Samwick, 2003.
"Performance Incentives within Firms: The Effect of Managerial Responsibility,"
Journal of Finance,
American Finance Association, vol. 58(4), pages 1613-1650, 08.
- Rajesh K. Aggarwal & Andrew A. Samwick, 1999. "Performance Incentives Within Firms: The Effect of Managerial Responsibility," NBER Working Papers 7334, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Lazear, Edward P, 1986. "Salaries and Piece Rates," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(3), pages 405-431, July.
- Brian J. Hall & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 1997.
"Are CEOs Really Paid Like Bureaucrats?,"
NBER Working Papers
6213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Kandel, Eugene & Lazear, Edward P, 1992.
"Peer Pressure and Partnerships,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 801-817, August.
- Joseph G. Haubrich, 1991.
"Risk aversion, performance pay, and the principal-agent problem,"
9118, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
- 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.
- Myerson, Roger B, 1983.
"Mechanism Design by an Informed Principal,"
Econometric Society, vol. 51(6), pages 1767-1797, November.
- 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.
- 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.
- Groves, Theodore, 1973. "Incentives in Teams," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 41(4), pages 617-631, July.
- Hall, Robert E & Lazear, Edward P, 1984.
"The Excess Sensitivity of Layoffs and Quits to Demand,"
Journal of Labor Economics,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(2), pages 233-257, April.
- Robert E. Hall & Edward P. Lazear, 1982. "The Excess Sensitivity of Layoffs and Quits to Demand," NBER Working Papers 0864, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Harry J. Paarsch & Bruce S. Shearer, 1997.
"Fixed Wages, Piece Rates, and Intertemporal Productivity: A Study of Tree Planters in British Columbia,"
CIRANO Working Papers
- Paarsch, Harry J. & Shearer, Bruce, 1997. "Fixed Wages, Piece Rates, and Intertemporal Productivity: a Study of tree Planters in British Columbia," Cahiers de recherche 9702, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
- Yermack, David, 1995. "Do corporations award CEO stock options effectively?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2-3), pages 237-269.
- Edward P. Lazear, 1999. "Personnel Economics: Past Lessons and Future Directions," NBER Working Papers 6957, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- George P. Baker & Brian J. Hall, 1998. "CEO Incentives and Firm Size," NBER Working Papers 6868, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7419. 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: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.