Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1786540
 
 

Citations (7)



 


 



Marital Prenups? A Look at CEO Severance Agreements


Peggy Huang


Tulane University - Finance & Economics

March 15, 2011


Abstract:     
Some theoretical literature on firm-specific human capital investment suggests that severance contracts generate strong incentives for CEOs to ensure firm profitability, while the agency problem theory argues severance agreements are a less effective executive compensation measure. Using a unique sample of S&P500 CEO severance agreements between 1993 and 2007, I examine whether and how the existence and structure of severance agreements influence subsequent firm performance, CEO investment behavior, as well as CEO turnover likelihood. I show that while firms with severance agreements tend to perform worse than firms without severance agreements, the structure of severance agreements also makes a significant difference in performance. In particular, I find that firms with cash-only severance contracts underperform other firms that also include equity elements in the agreement. In addition, I find that severance agreements affect CEOs’ risk-taking behavior in that they encourage CEOs to overinvest in R&D. The findings are robust to controls for possible endogeneity concerns. Consistent with these findings I show in event study analysis that shareholders react negatively when firms award CEOs severance contracts and positively when firms cease to do so. Moreover, executives with severance contracts are more likely to be forced out of their firms. Results indicate that severance agreements, rather than promoting incentive alignment between CEOs and shareholders, actually exacerbate agency problems which lead to overinvestment and poor subsequent firm performance.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 49

Keywords: Executive Compensation, Severance, Managerial Incentives, Firm Performance

JEL Classification: G34, J33, J41

working papers series





Download This Paper

Date posted: March 15, 2011 ; Last revised: March 15, 2012

Suggested Citation

Huang, Peggy, Marital Prenups? A Look at CEO Severance Agreements (March 15, 2011). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1786540 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1786540

Contact Information

Peggy Huang (Contact Author)
Tulane University - Finance & Economics ( email )
A.B. Freeman School of Business
7 McAlister Drive
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 1,742
Downloads: 250
Download Rank: 50,920
Citations:  7

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo7 in 0.485 seconds