Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=248613
 
 

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Agents With and Without Principals


Marianne Bertrand


University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Sendhil Mullainathan


Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

January 2000

MIT Dept. of Economics Working Paper No. 00-31

Abstract:     
Who sets CEO pay? Our standard answer to this question has been shaped by principal agent theory: shareholders set CEO pay. They use pay to limit the moral hazard problem caused by the low ownership stakes of CEOs. Through bonuses, options, or long term contracts, shareholders can motivate the CEO to maximize firm wealth. In other words, shareholders use pay to provide incentives, a view we refer to as the contracting view.

An alternative view, championed by practitioners such as Crystal (1991), argues that CEOs set their own pay. They manipulate the compensation committee and hence the pay process itself to pay themselves what they can. The only constraints they face may be the availability of funds or more general fears, such as not wanting to be singled out in the Wall Street Journal as being overpaid. We refer to this second view as the skimming view. In this paper, we investigate the relevance of these two views.

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Date posted: November 14, 2000  

Suggested Citation

Bertrand, Marianne and Mullainathan, Sendhil, Agents With and Without Principals (January 2000). MIT Dept. of Economics Working Paper No. 00-31. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=248613 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.248613

Contact Information

Marianne Bertrand
University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )
5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-834-5943 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://gsbwww.uchicago.edu/fac/marianne.bertrand/vita/cv_0604.pdf
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-588-0341 (Phone)
617-876-2742 (Fax)
Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom
Sendhil Mullainathan (Contact Author)
Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )
Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-2720 (Phone)
617-495-7730 (Fax)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-588-1473 (Phone)
617-876-2742 (Fax)
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