Performance-Based Compensation and Firm Value – Experimental Evidence
28 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2013 Last revised: 8 May 2015
Date Written: April 15, 2015
We study equity price reactions to compensation contracting in experimental markets. Motivated by research reporting positive price reactions to adoption of performance-based compensation plans for executive managers, but postulating competing reasons as to why, we design an experiment that allows us to manipulate variables separately to examine the effect of adverse selection and moral hazard on equity prices. We find that managers select contracts based on their private information, sometimes differing from predicted choices, and that private information is conveyed to the market by the choice of compensation contract and is reflected in stock prices. We refer to this as the sorting effect. Additionally, we find that managers do not always exert costly effort in spite of favorable incentives to do so. The design also allows us to assess if the market rationally prices managers’ actual choices. We find market prices are consistent with the empirically observed manager choices. Our results imply that to properly assess the impact of a compensation plan on market prices, one should consider both the sorting as well as the incentive effects of compensation contracts, and that the market anticipates errors in managers’ choices.
Keywords: compensation, experimental markets, sorting, incentives, skepticism
JEL Classification: C92, D82, G12, J33, M52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation