Executive Compensation, Strategic Competition, and Relative Performance Evaluation: Theory and Evidence

69 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2010

See all articles by Rajesh K. Aggarwal

Rajesh K. Aggarwal

Northeastern University

Andrew A. Samwick

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 1996

Abstract

We argue that strategic interactions between firms in an oligopoly can explain the puzzling lack of high-powered incentives in executive compensation contracts written by shareholders whose objective is to maximize the value of their shares. We derive the optimal compensation contracts for managers and demonstrate that the use of high-powered incentives will be limited by the need to soften product market competition. In particular, when managers can be compensated based on their own and their rivals' performance, we show that there will be an inverse relationship between the magnitude of high-powered incentives and the degree of competition in the industry. More competitive industries are characterized by weaker pay-performance incentives. Empirically, we find strong evidence of this inverse relationship in the compensation of executives in the United States. Our econometric results are not consistent with alternative theories of the effect of competition on executive compensation. We conclude that strategic considerations can preclude the use of high-powered incentives, in contrast to the predictions of the standard principal-agent model.

Suggested Citation

Aggarwal, Rajesh K. and Samwick, Andrew A., Executive Compensation, Strategic Competition, and Relative Performance Evaluation: Theory and Evidence (July 1996). NBER Working Paper No. w5648. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1722505

Rajesh K. Aggarwal (Contact Author)

Northeastern University ( email )

413 Hayden Hall
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Andrew A. Samwick

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States
603-646-2893 (Phone)
603-646-2122 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~samwick

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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