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Executive compensation in America : optimal contracting or extraction of rents?

Author: Lucian A Bebchuk; Jesse M Fried; David I Walker; National Bureau of Economic Research.
Publisher: Cambridge, MA. : National Bureau of Economic Research, ©2001.
Series: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. 8661.
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
Abstract: This paper develops an account of the role and significance of rent extraction in executive compensation. Under the optimal contracting view of executive compensation, which has dominated academic research on the subject, pay arrangements are set by a board of directors that aims to maximize shareholder value by designing an optimal principal-agent contract. Under the alternative rent extraction view that  Read more...
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Material Type: Document, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Lucian A Bebchuk; Jesse M Fried; David I Walker; National Bureau of Economic Research.
OCLC Number: 49048245
Notes: "December 2001."
Description: 1 online resource (92 pages, R-17 pages).
Series Title: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. 8661.
Responsibility: Lucian Arye Bebchuk, Jesse M. Fried, David I. Walker.

Abstract:

Abstract: This paper develops an account of the role and significance of rent extraction in executive compensation. Under the optimal contracting view of executive compensation, which has dominated academic research on the subject, pay arrangements are set by a board of directors that aims to maximize shareholder value by designing an optimal principal-agent contract. Under the alternative rent extraction view that we examine, the board does not operate at arm's length; rather, executives have power to influence their own compensation, and they use their power to extract rents. As a result, executives are paid more than is optimal for shareholders and, to camouflage the extraction of rents, executive compensation might be structured sub-optimally. The presence of rent extraction, we argue, is consistent both with the processes that produce compensation schemes and with the market forces and constraints that companies face. Examining the large body of empirical work on executive compensation, we show that the picture emerging from it is largely compatible with the rent extraction view. Indeed, rent extraction, and the desire to camouflage it, can better explain many puzzling features of compensation patterns and practices. We conclude that extraction of rents might well play a significant role in U.S. executive compensation; and that the significant presence of rent extraction should be taken into account in any examination of the practice and regulation of corporate governance.

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