Mutual Monitoring and Agency Problems

40 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2011 Last revised: 5 Jun 2019

See all articles by Zhichuan Frank Li

Zhichuan Frank Li

University of Western Ontario - Ivey School of Business

Date Written: May 1, 2019


Mutual monitoring in a well-structured authority system can mitigate the agency problem. I empirically examine whether the number 2 executive in a firm, if given authority, incentive, and channels for communication and influence, is able to monitor and constrain the potentially self-interested CEO. I find strong evidence that: (1) measures of the presence and extent of mutual monitoring from the No. 2 executive are positively related to future firm value (Tobin’s Q); (2) the beneficial effect is more pronounced for firms with weaker corporate governance or CEO incentive alignment, and with higher information asymmetry between the boards and the CEOs; (3) such mutual monitoring reduces the CEO’s ability to pursue the “quiet life” but has no effect on “empire building;” and (4) mutual monitoring is a substitute for other governance mechanisms. The results suggest that mutual monitoring provides checks and balances on CEO power.

Keywords: Corporate governance, Mutual monitoring, Authority differential, Pay gap, Agency problem, No. 2 executive, Firm performance

JEL Classification: G34, G32, D23, J33

Suggested Citation

Li, Zhichuan Frank, Mutual Monitoring and Agency Problems (May 1, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Zhichuan Frank Li (Contact Author)

University of Western Ontario - Ivey School of Business ( email )

1151 Richmond Street North
London Ontario, Ontario N6A 3K7

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics