Performance Targets and Ex Post Incentive Plan Adjustments

Posted: 1 Mar 2022

See all articles by Jeong-Hoon Hyun

Jeong-Hoon Hyun

Chung-Ang University - College of Business Administration

Michal Matejka

Arizona State University

Peter (Seung Hwan) Oh

McGill University - Desautels Faculty of Management

Tae Sik Ahn

Seoul National University - College of Business Administration

Date Written: December 20, 2021

Abstract

Performance evaluations are typically based on a formula that specifies in advance all performance measures, their relative incentive weights, and targets to be met. However, beginning-of-year performance targets can become outdated due to unforeseen events, which calls for ex post adjustments to formula-based incentive plans to restore incentives. We discuss three types of ex post incentive plan adjustments—end-of-year subjective performance evaluation, changes in next-year relative incentive weights, and changes in next-year performance targets—and empirically examine the extent to which they are used to discourage failure to meet a target by a wide margin. Specifically, we use 2004–2015 data on formula-based bonus plans, subjective performance evaluations, and performance in Korean state-owned enterprises. Consistent with our predictions, we find that very low performance relative to target is associated with (i) low subjective evaluations and (ii) an increase in next-year incentive weights, which renders areas with poor performance more important in future evaluations. These findings are more pronounced on performance dimensions of high importance and less pronounced when very low performance is due to an adverse uncontrollable shock. Finally, we find evidence that ex post incentive plan adjustments are associated with future performance improvements. Combined, our findings suggest that ex post incentive plan adjustments can be used to strengthen incentives when performance targets get outdated.

Keywords: subjective evaluation, performance targets, multitasking, executive compensation, incentives

Suggested Citation

Hyun, Jeong-Hoon and Matejka, Michal and Oh, Peter (Seung Hwan) and Ahn, Tae Sik, Performance Targets and Ex Post Incentive Plan Adjustments (December 20, 2021). Contemporary Accounting Research, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4003012

Jeong-Hoon Hyun

Chung-Ang University - College of Business Administration ( email )

221 Hukseuk-Dong
Seoul 156-756
Korea

Michal Matejka

Arizona State University ( email )

Tempe, AZ 85287-3706
United States
480-965-7984 (Phone)

Peter (Seung Hwan) Oh (Contact Author)

McGill University - Desautels Faculty of Management ( email )

1001 Sherbrooke St. West
Montreal, Quebec H3A1G5 H3A 2M1
Canada

Tae Sik Ahn

Seoul National University - College of Business Administration ( email )

Seoul, 151-742
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

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