Executive Compensation: Accounting and Economic Issues
The chief executive officer (CEO) of a corporation and her executive team are responsible for the management of the business and its continued financial success. This team is almost always highly compensated and the relative total compensation has mushroomed over time. Most of the compensation now is designed to be performance-based; but this structure leads to charges that it provides executives with incentives to manipulate short term corporate earnings and stock prices to serve their own compensation self interests. The book explores this premise and provides guidance into how such determinations are made. Three key points are emphasized in this book. First is the role that accounting and disclosure play in informing the process of determining executive compensation. Second is the recognition that executive compensation can affect corporate behavior in a variety of ways; and finally, there is the acknowledgement that executive compensation cannot be fully understood without one first becoming familiar with economic theory and empirical research related to compensation models. Because the rationale for executive compensation and the way it is viewed has changed over time, this book adopts a historical/chronological perspective. This perspective allows the book to make several observations about the state of executive compensation and how public disclosures about it have been demanded and have increased over time. The business culture and institutional framework for compensation of top executives has changed dramatically since the 1930s, with important ramifications. Types and amounts of executive pay have bounced up and down based on tax laws, regulatory changes and executive self-interest, as executives find new ways to be paid more. Yet research has shown that, despite some notable excesses, overall executive compensation is often more reasonable than recent perceptions would suggest.