CEO Compensation: Evidence From the Field
76 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2021 Last revised: 28 Mar 2022
Date Written: March 15, 2022
We survey directors and investors on the objectives, constraints, and determinants of CEO pay. 67% of directors would sacrifice shareholder value to avoid controversy on CEO pay, implying they face significant constraints other than participation and incentive compatibility. These constraints lead to lower pay levels and more one-size-fits-all structures. Shareholders are the main source of constraints, suggesting directors and investors disagree on how to maximize value. Respondents view intrinsic motivation and reputation as stronger motivators than incentive pay. They believe pay matters to CEOs not to finance consumption, but because of CEOs’ perceptions of fairness. The need to fairly recognize the CEO’s contribution explains why flow pay responds to performance, even though CEOs’ equity holdings already provide substantial consumption incentives, and why peer firm pay matters beyond retention. Fairness also matters to investors, who expect CEOs to share their gains and losses. This causes CEO pay to be affected by external risks, in contrast to optimal risk sharing.
Keywords: Executive Compensation, Contract Theory, CEO Incentives, Fairness, Survey
JEL Classification: G34, G38, M12, M52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation