Paying High for Low Performance
100 Minnesota Law Review Headnotes 14 (2016)
15 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2015 Last revised: 12 Feb 2016
Date Written: August 7, 2015
This essay argues that regulatory reforms introduced by the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 in the area of executive compensation have not yet achieved their purpose of linking executive pay with company performance. The rule on shareholder say-on-pay appears to have had limited success over the five proxy seasons since its adoption. The rule on pay ratio disclosure, adopted in August 2015, and the rules on pay-versus-performance disclosure and the clawback of certain incentive compensation, proposed in April 2015 and July 2015, respectively, are also unlikely to succeed. For the most part, the rules are intuitive and well-intentioned, but a closer look reveals that they are easy to manipulate, counterproductive, and often interact with one another, and with other regulatory goals, in unintended ways. As a result, five years after the passage of Dodd-Frank, the decades-old goal of aligning pay with performance remains elusive.
Keywords: executive compensation, corporate governance, Dodd-Frank Act, pay for performance, say-on-pay, pay ratio disclosure, incentive compensation clawbacks
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