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IT, Corporate Payouts, and the Growing Inequality in Managerial Compensation

Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, Chad Syverson and Hanno Lustig ()

No 265, 2008 Meeting Papers from Society for Economic Dynamics

Abstract: Three of the most fundamental changes in US corporations since the early 1970s have been (1) the increase in the importance of organizational capital in production, (2) the increase in managerial income inequality, and (3) the increase in payouts to the owners. There is a unified explanation for these changes: The arrival and gradual adoption of information technology since the 1970s has stimulated the accumulation of organizational capital in existing firms. Since owners are better diversified than managers, the optimal division of rents from this organizational capital has the owners bear most of the cash-flow risk. In our model, the IT revolution benefits the owners and the managers in large successful firms, but not the managers in small firms. The resulting increase in managerial compensation inequality and the increase in payouts to owner's compare favorably to those we establish in the data.

Date: 2008
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