Relative Performance Evaluation and Competitive Aggressiveness
72 Pages Posted: 14 May 2019 Last revised: 11 May 2021
Date Written: May 10, 2020
We examine the relation between incentive plans based on relative performance and competitive aggressiveness. Using data on executive incentive-compensation contracts in large U.S. firms, we find a positive association between competitive aggressiveness and peer group overlap—i.e., the extent to which two firms select each other as peers in these incentive plans. Our findings indicate that managers of such firms take more frequent as well as more complex competitive actions, relative to managers evaluated on relative performance without peer group overlap. Moreover, we show that these competitive tactics are more pronounced when: (1) managers compete against peers with similar grant sizes; (2) managers compete against peers on similar performance metrics; and (3) managers compete against larger peer groups. Collectively, our findings provide evidence on how widely used incentive-compensation practices impact strategic firm decisions.
Keywords: relative performance evaluation, peer group overlap, competitive aggressiveness, strategic interaction, collusion
JEL Classification: J33, J41, L1, M4
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation