The Effects of Vertical Pay Dispersion: Experimental Evidence in a Budget Setting
42 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2014 Last revised: 12 Apr 2017
Date Written: August 5, 2015
Vertical pay dispersion is the difference in pay across different hierarchical levels within an organization (Milkovich and Newman 1996). While vertical pay dispersion may be useful in attracting, retaining and motivating highly skilled employees (Lazear and Rosen 1981; Lazear 1995; Prendergast 1999), our study investigates a potential disadvantage; specifically, the negative impact of perceived unfairness of vertical pay dispersion on employees’ budgeting decisions. We predict and find that high vertical pay dispersion motivates subordinates to misreport costs to a greater extent than low vertical pay dispersion. Furthermore, we predict and find that superiors, on average, exercise more lenient cost controls when vertical pay dispersion is high rather than low. Supplemental analysis indicates superiors are more lenient on average due to their aversion to inequity caused by vertical pay dispersion. Our results suggest that high vertical pay dispersion can compromise the overall corporate budgeting environment, where higher levels of misreporting by subordinates goes unchecked by superiors.
Keywords: vertical pay dispersion, control strength, misreporting, budgeting
JEL Classification: M41; M12; M52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation