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On the valuation and incentive effects of executive cash bonus contracts

  • Lionel Martellini
  • Branko Urosevic

Executive compensation packages are often valued in an inconsistent manner: while employee stock options (ESOs) are typically valued ex-ante, cash bonuses are valued ex-post. This renders the existing valuation models of employee compensation packages theoretically unsatisfactory and, potentially, empirically distortive. In this paper, we propose an option-based framework for ex-ante valuation of cash bonus contracts. After obtaining closed-form expressions for ex-ante values of several frequently used types of bonus contracts, we utilize them to explore the e¤ects that the shape of a bonus contract has on the executive’s attitude toward risk-taking. We, also, study pay-performance sensitivity of such contracts. We show that the terms of a bonus contract can dramatically impact both risk-taking behavior as well as pay-performance incentives. Several testable predictions are made, and venues of future research outlined.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 784.

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Date of creation: Dec 2003
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Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:784
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

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  1. 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 637-54, May-June.
  2. Johnson, Shane A. & Tian, Yisong S., 2000. "The value and incentive effects of nontraditional executive stock option plans," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 3-34, July.
  3. Hall, Brian J. & Murphy, Kevin J., 2002. "Stock options for undiversified executives," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 3-42, February.
  4. Jensen, M.C. & Murphy, K.J., 1988. "Performance Pay And Top Management Incentives," Papers 88-04, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
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  6. Kole, Stacey R., 1997. "The complexity of compensation contracts," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 79-104, January.
  7. Johnson, Shane A. & Tian, Yisong S., 2000. "Indexed executive stock options," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 35-64, July.
  8. Gaver, Jennifer J. & Gaver, Kenneth M. & Austin, Jeffrey R., 1995. "Additional evidence on bonus plans and income management," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 3-28, February.
  9. Carpenter, Jennifer N., 1998. "The exercise and valuation of executive stock options," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 127-158, May.
  10. Benjamin E. Hermalin & Nancy E. Wallace, 1997. "Firm Performance and Executive Compensation in the Savings and Loan Industry," Finance 9710006, EconWPA.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Jennifer N. Carpenter, 2000. "Does Option Compensation Increase Managerial Risk Appetite?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(5), pages 2311-2331, October.
  14. Jennifer Carpenter, 1999. "Does Option Compensation Increase Managerial Risk Appetite?," New York University, Leonard N. Stern School Finance Department Working Paper Seires 99-076, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business-.
  15. 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.
  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.
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