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The determinants and effects of CEO–employee pay ratios

Olubunmi Faleye, Ebru Reis and Anand Venkateswaran

Journal of Banking & Finance, 2013, vol. 37, issue 8, 3258-3272

Abstract: We study the determinants and effects of the relative compensation of top executives and lower-level employees. First, we show that CEO–employee pay ratios depend on the balance of power between the CEO (relative to the board) and ordinary employees (relative to management). Second, our results suggest that employees do not perceive higher pay ratios as an inequitable outcome to be redressed via costly behaviors that lower productivity. We do not find a negative relation between relative pay and employee productivity, either in our full sample or in subsamples where employees are well-informed about executive pay and are protected against career retributions. Rather, we find that productivity increases with relative pay when the firm has fewer employees who are well-informed, and when promotion decisions are predominantly merit-based. We also find that firm value and operating performance both increase with relative pay. We conclude that ordinary employees appear to perceive an opportunity in higher pay ratios but the extent to which such perception incentivizes them depends on the likelihood of success in a series of sequential promotion tournaments.

Keywords: Employee incentives; Productivity; Pay ratio; Executive compensation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D24 G34 J33 L14 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:eee:jbfina:v:37:y:2013:i:8:p:3258-3272