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Powerful CEOs, cash bonus contracts and firm performance

Rebecca L. Bachmann, Anna Loyeung, Zoltan P. Matolcsy and Helen Spiropoulos

Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, 2020, vol. 47, issue 1-2, 100-131

Abstract: 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.

Date: 2020
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Journal of Business Finance & Accounting is currently edited by P. F. Pope, A. W. Stark and M. Walker

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