Essays on Stock Option Compensation and the Role of Incentives and Risk (summary section only)

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http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:951-555-827-1
Title: Essays on Stock Option Compensation and the Role of Incentives and Risk (summary section only)
Author: Rosenberg, Matts
Other contributor: Svenska handelshögskolan, Institutionen för finansiell ekonomi och ekonomisk statistik, finansiell ekonomi
Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration, Department of Finance and Statistics, Finance
Publisher: Svenska handelshögskolan
Date: 2004-05-07
Language: en
Number of pages: 1837 bytes
Belongs to series: Economics and Society - 126
ISBN: 951-555-827-1
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10227/98
http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:951-555-827-1
Thesis level: Doctoral thesis
Abstract: Managerial pay-for-performance sensitivity has increased rapidly around the world. Early empirical research showed that pay-for-performance sensitivity resulting from stock ownership and stock options appeared to be quite low during the 1970s and early 1980s in the U.S. However, recent empirical research from the U.S. shows an enormous increase in pay-for-performance sensitivity. The global trend has also reached Finland, where stock options have become a major ingredient of executive compensation. The fact that stock options seem to be an appealing form of remuneration from a theoretical point of view combined with the observation that the use of this compensation form has increased significantly during the recent years, implies that research on the dynamics of stock option compensation is highly relevant for the academic community, as well as for practitioners and regulators. The research questions of the thesis are analyzed in four separate essays. The first essay examines whether stock option compensation practices of Finnish firms are consistent with predictions from principal-agent theory. The second essay explores one of the major puzzles in the compensation literature by studying determinants of stock option contract design. In theory, optimal contract design should vary according to firm characteristics. However, in the U.S., variation in contract design seems to be surprisingly low, a phenomenon generally attributed to tax and accounting considerations. In Finland, however, firms are not subject to stringent contracting restrictions, and the variation in contract design tends, in fact, to be quite substantial. The third essay studies the impact of price- and risk incentives arising from stock option compensation on firm investment. In addition, the essay explores one of the most debated questions in the literature, in particular, the relation between incentives and firm performance. Finally, several strands of literature in both economics and corporate finance hypothesize that economic uncertainty is related to corporate decision-making. Previous research has shown that risk tends to slow down firm investment. In the fourth essay, it is hypothesized that firm risk slows down growth from a more universal perspective. Consistent with this view, it is shown that risk not only tends to slow down firm investment, but also employment growth. Moreover, the essay explores whether the nature of firms’ compensation policies, in particular, whether firms make use of stock option compensation, affects the relation between risk and firm growth. In summary, the four essays contribute to the current understanding of stock options as a form of equity incentives, and how incentives and risk affect corporate decision-making. By this, the thesis promotes the knowledge related to the modern theory of the firm.
Subject: agency costs
capital expenditures
contract design
employment growth
firm risk
firm value
optimal contracting
principal-agent theory
stock option incentives
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