NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

CEO Compensation

Carola Frydman, Dirk Jenter

NBER Working Paper No. 16585
Issued in December 2010
NBER Program(s):   CF   LS

This paper surveys the recent literature on CEO compensation. The rapid rise in CEO pay over the past 30 years has sparked an intense debate about the nature of the pay-setting process. Many view the high level of CEO compensation as the result of powerful managers setting their own pay. Others interpret high pay as the result of optimal contracting in a competitive market for managerial talent. We describe and discuss the empirical evidence on the evolution of CEO pay and on the relationship between pay and firm performance since the 1930s. Our review suggests that both managerial power and competitive market forces are important determinants of CEO pay, but that neither approach is fully consistent with the available evidence. We briefly discuss promising directions for future research.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16585

Published: Carola Frydman & Dirk Jenter, 2010. "CEO Compensation," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 75-102, December.

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