Contract Horizon, Severance Pay, and Turnover

AFA 2018 Philadelphia Meetings Paper

61 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2016 Last revised: 16 May 2019

See all articles by Vladimir Vladimirov

Vladimir Vladimirov

University of Amsterdam Business School; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: April 22, 2019


Renewable fixed-term contracts are widespread in executive compensation. This paper shows why these contracts are optimal and how they affect managers' and boards' behavior. When managers' match-quality changes over time, offering severance pay for premature dismissal can discourage window dressing by managers trying to avoid dismissal. However, to be effective, severance pay must increase with the contract's length. Fixed-term contracts that offer little severance pay if not extended provide a balance between reducing the likelihood of window dressing and lowering dismissal costs. The predicted determinants of contract length are supported by empirical evidence and have implications for managers' turnover-performance sensitivity.

Keywords: contract length, contract horizon, severance pay, renewable fixed-term contracts, voluntary and forced turnover, turnover-performance sensitivity, asymmetric information

JEL Classification: G30, G34, D82

Suggested Citation

Vladimirov, Vladimir, Contract Horizon, Severance Pay, and Turnover (April 22, 2019). AFA 2018 Philadelphia Meetings Paper, Available at SSRN: or

Vladimir Vladimirov (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam Business School ( email )

Roetersstraat 18
Amsterdam, 1018WB

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

United Kingdom

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