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What can we learn from privately held firms about executive compensation?

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  • Cole, Rebel
  • Mehran, Hamid

Abstract

This study examines executive compensation using data from two nationally representative samples of privately held U.S. corporations conducted ten years apart—in 1993 and 2003—and uses these data to test a number of hypotheses. We find that: (i) the level of executive pay at privately held firms is higher at larger firms and varies widely by industry, consistent with stylized facts about executive pay at public companies; (ii) inflation-adjusted executive pay has fallen at privately held companies, in contrast with the widely documented run-up in executive pay at large public companies; (iii) the pay-size elasticity is much larger for privately held firms than for the publicly traded firms on which previous research has almost exclusively focused; (iv) executive pay is higher at more complex organizations; (v) organizational form affects taxation, which, in turn, affects executive pay, with executives at C-corporations being paid significantly more than executives at S-corporations; (vi) executive pay is inversely related to CEO ownership; (vii) executive pay is inversely related to financial risk; and (viii) executive pay is related to a number of CEO characteristics, including age, education and gender: executive pay has a quadratic relation with CEO age, a positive relation with educational, and is significantly lower for female executives.

Suggested Citation

  • Cole, Rebel & Mehran, Hamid, 2010. "What can we learn from privately held firms about executive compensation?," MPRA Paper 24668, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:24668
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    3. Jesper Banghøj & Gorm Gabrielsen & Christian Petersen & Thomas Plenborg, 2010. "Determinants of executive compensation in privately held firms," Accounting and Finance, Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 50(3), pages 481-510, September.
    4. Chenli Yin & Dan Li & Maria Paz Salmador, 2022. "Institutional change of compensation policy and its impact on CEO turnover and firm performance," Review of Managerial Science, Springer, vol. 16(8), pages 2527-2552, November.
    5. Bannier, Christina E. & Feess, Eberhard, 2010. "When high-powered incentive contracts reduce performance: choking under pressure as a screening device," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 135, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
    6. Cronqvist, Henrik & Fahlenbrach, Rüdiger, 2013. "CEO contract design: How do strong principals do it?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(3), pages 659-674.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    CEO; compensation; education; executive; executive pay; gender; organizational form; ownership; SSBF; taxes;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • M13 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - New Firms; Startups
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods

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