How Do Quasi-Random Option Grants Affect CEO Risk-Taking?

53 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2017 Last revised: 16 Apr 2019

See all articles by Kelly Shue

Kelly Shue

Yale School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Richard Townsend

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Rady School of Management

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Date Written: January 2017

Abstract

We examine how an increase in stock option grants affects CEO risk-taking. The overall net effect of option grants is theoretically ambiguous for risk-averse CEOs. To overcome the endogeneity of option grants, we exploit institutional features of multi-year compensation plans, which generate two distinct types of variation in the timing of when large increases in new at-the-money options are granted. We find that, given average grant levels during our sample period, a 10 percent increase in new options granted leads to a 2.8–4.2 percent increase in equity volatility. This increase in risk is driven largely by increased leverage.

Suggested Citation

Shue, Kelly and Townsend, Richard, How Do Quasi-Random Option Grants Affect CEO Risk-Taking? (January 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23091. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2907894

Kelly Shue (Contact Author)

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
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Richard Townsend

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Rady School of Management ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Rady School of Management
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

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