CEO Pay, Motivation and the Meaning of Money

26 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2012

See all articles by John Hendry

John Hendry

University of Reading - Henley Business School

Date Written: March 1, 2012


Informed by agency theory, the dominant theory and practice of CEO pay both exclude non-monetary incentives and treat money itself as pure exchange value. Drawing on the economics of non-monetary incentives and the sociology of money, we use qualitative evidence from UK FTSE100 CEOs, to challenge and supplement this perspective. We conclude that for these CEOs even incentive pay acts more as security than as incentive and that the monetary (exchange) value of pay matter less than its symbolic values and significantly less than peer group recognition and respect, personal achievement, job satisfaction, and the challenge of beating corporate competitors.

Keywords: CEO, executive pay, sociology of money, incentives

Suggested Citation

Hendry, John, CEO Pay, Motivation and the Meaning of Money (March 1, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

John Hendry (Contact Author)

University of Reading - Henley Business School ( email )

Reading, Berkshire RG6 6AH
United Kingdom

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