Asymmetry of CEO Compensation and the Role of Relative and Macroeconomic Shocks in Risk Taking Incentives
49 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2015
Date Written: September 15, 2015
If managers are risk-averse and compensation schemes are not directly linked to shareholder wealth, incentives to allocate effort to manage effects of relative and macroeconomic shocks may be distorted. In this paper we develop a simple model to identify factors that determine the optimal allocation of effort to manage relative and macroeconomic shocks. We then show how serial correlation in shocks, the relative variance of shocks and the ability of managers to influence the effects of shocks on shareholder wealth determine the optimal allocation of managerial effort. Thereafter, we emphasize how CEO compensation depends on performance variables distinguishing between relative and macroeconomic sources of changes in compensation. In our empirical analysis on the asymmetry of compensation in response to relative and macroeconomic shocks we use CEO’s firm-related wealth in a sample of U.S. CEOs during 1993-2012. The empirical results show that macroeconomic fluctuations explain a large part of the variances of compensation and firm-related wealth. We find only weak evidence of asymmetric incentives in these two variables. Thus, if managers are risk-averse, their incentives to reduce the impact of macroeconomic fluctuations are strong and possibly excessive. We conclude that the role of macroeconomic fluctuations and the ability of the CEO to adjust operations in response to these fluctuations should be considered simultaneously when designing individual CEO compensation incentive schemes.
Keywords: Macroeconomic Fluctuations, Luck, Performance, CEO Compensation, Asymmetry, Risk Incentives
JEL Classification: G30, G32, J33, E00, L14, L16, M21, M52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation