On REIT CEO Compensation: Does Board Structure Matter?
Posted: 13 Oct 2004
In a perfect world where the board of directors is independent of CEO influence, CEO pay-for-performance compensation contracts should be a function of performance only. If the CEO can influence board structure through his ownership of company stock or chairmanship of the board, however, performance contracts are sub-optimal and agency problems arise, which allow the CEO to extract rent and demand compensation in excess of the equilibrium level. As such, models of compensation contracts must include board and ownership structure variables, in addition to the traditional economic determinants. Our analyses with REITs corroborate this notion. Our data demonstrate that the structure of REIT boards are not independent of CEO influence, and significant agency problems exist allowing the CEO to design boards that reward him at the cost of shareholder wealth. CEO compensation in REITs depends significantly on the usual economic measures of performance including firm size and return on assets; more importantly, CEO compensation is higher in REITs where the board is weak in monitoring because of large size, and older directors; the effect of a blockholder is adverse, however. This study provides additional evidence to the growing literature that observed board structures are ineffective in monitoring and governance.
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