Executive Mobility in the United States, 1920 to 2011

71 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2021 Last revised: 5 Apr 2021

See all articles by John R. Graham

John R. Graham

Duke University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Dawoon Kim

Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

Hyunseob Kim

Cornell University - Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management

Date Written: December 23, 2020

Abstract

We examine the evolution of executive mobility from 1920-2011. In the decades leading up to 1999, CEO and CFO mobility increased. Starting in the early-2000s, in contrast, executive mobility declined sharply. We develop a new measure of aggregate executive mobility that nests both turnover and across-firm mobility. We use this measure to document that the benefits of reallocating executives, labor market size, compensation, and general managerial skills help explain executive mobility trends. We also show that following an increase in mobility, firms shift CEO pay towards option grants, consistent with a retention effect of option pay for executives.

Keywords: Executive mobility, Reallocation, Executive labor markets, Corporate governance trends, CEO compensation

JEL Classification: G30, J41

Suggested Citation

Graham, John Robert and Kim, Dawoon and Kim, Hyunseob, Executive Mobility in the United States, 1920 to 2011 (December 23, 2020). Nanyang Business School Research Paper No. 21-04, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3753809 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3753809

John Robert Graham

Duke University ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States
919-660-7857 (Phone)
919-660-8030 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Dawoon Kim

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) ( email )

S3-B1B-76 Nanyang Avenue
Singapore, 639798
Singapore
+65-6790-6133 (Phone)

Hyunseob Kim (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

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