Pay for Performance… But Not Too Much Pay: The American Public's View of CEO Pay

20 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2019

See all articles by David F. Larcker

David F. Larcker

Stanford University - Graduate School of Business

Brian Tayan

Stanford University - Graduate School of Business

Date Written: November 25, 2019

Abstract

Among the controversies in corporate governance, perhaps none is more heated or widely debated across society than that of CEO pay. The views that American citizens have on CEO pay is centrally important because public opinion influences political decisions that shape tax, economic, and regulatory policy, and ultimately determine the standard of living of average Americans. This Closer Look reviews survey data of the American public to understand their views on compensation. We ask:

• How can society’s understanding of pay and value creation be improved and the controversy over CEO pay resolved?
• How should the level of CEO pay rise with complexity and profitability, particularly among America’s largest corporations?
• Should pay be reformed in the boardroom, or should high pay be addressed solely through the tax code?
• Are negative views of CEO pay driven by broad skepticism and lack of esteem for CEOs? Or do high pay levels themselves contribute to low regard for CEOs?

Keywords: CEO compensation, American view on pay, survey data, CEO pay, pay and size, executive pay, pay for performance, corporate governance research

JEL Classification: G3, G30, J3, M52

Suggested Citation

Larcker, David F. and Tayan, Brian, Pay for Performance… But Not Too Much Pay: The American Public's View of CEO Pay (November 25, 2019). Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University Closer Look Series: Topics, Issues and Controversies in Corporate Governance No. CGRP-80, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3496839

David F. Larcker (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Graduate School of Business ( email )

Graduate School of Business
518 Memorial Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States
650-725-6159 (Phone)

Brian Tayan

Stanford University - Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

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