Contract Length and Severance Pay

AFA 2018 Philadelphia Meetings Paper

49 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2016 Last revised: 28 Jun 2021

See all articles by Vladimir Vladimirov

Vladimir Vladimirov

University of Amsterdam Business School; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Finance Theory Group (FTG)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 26, 2021


Renewable fixed-term contracts are widespread in executive compensation. This paper studies why these contracts are optimal, what determines their length, and how that length affects managerial behavior. The model relates a contract's length to the period during which dismissing a manager triggers severance pay. Though longer contracts are more costly to terminate, their severance protection can discourage managers from trying to avoid replacement through window dressing or concealing soft information. Thus, the board's choice of contract length balances higher replacement costs with a higher likelihood of window dressing. The predicted determinants of contract length and severance pay are supported empirically.

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 Length and Severance Pay (June 26, 2021). 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

Finance Theory Group (FTG) ( email )

United States

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