What Gets Measured Gets Managed: Investment and the Cost of Capital
77 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2022 Last revised: 26 Jul 2022
Date Written: July 21, 2022
We study the impact of government-led incentive systems by examining a staggered reform in the Chinese state-owned enterprise (SOE) performance evaluation policy. To improve capital allocative efficiency, starting in 2010, regulators evaluating SOE performance switched from using return on equity (ROE) to economic value added (EVA). This EVA policy adopts a one-size-fits-all approach by stipulating a fixed cost of capital for virtually all SOEs, ignoring the potential heterogeneity of firm-specific costs of capital. We show that SOEs indeed responded to the performance evaluation reform by altering their investment decisions, more so when the actual borrowing rate was further away from the stipulated cost of capital. Our paper provides causal evidence that incentive schemes affect real investment and sheds new light on challenges faced by economic reforms in China.
Keywords: CEO compensation, Capital budgeting, Cost of Capital, Corporate governance, Economic reform, Transition economy
JEL Classification: G31, G34, M12, M52, P31
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