Powerful CEOs, cash bonus contracts and firm performance

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Business Finance and Accounting, 2020, 47 (1-2), pp. 100 - 131
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
© 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd We investigate whether powerful chief executive officers (CEOs) influence the conditions of their cash bonus contracts. Specifically, we examine (i) the association between CEO power and the proportion of ex-ante cash bonus to base salary (bonus ratio), (ii) the association between CEO power and the relative use of non-financial to financial performance targets in cash bonus contracts, and (iii) the performance consequences of incorporating non-financial targets in cash bonus contracts. Results show that powerful CEOs are associated with greater ex-ante bonus ratios and higher proportions of non-financial performance targets compared to less powerful CEOs. Furthermore, the use of quantitative and corporate social responsibility (CSR)-related non-financial performance targets is positively associated with subsequent firm performance, and the use of undefined non-financial performance targets is negatively associated with subsequent firm performance. These results are robust to alternative econometric specifications and variable definitions.
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