CEO Pay-for-Complexity and the Risk of Managerial Diversion from Multinational Diversification
59 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2010 Last revised: 3 Sep 2012
Date Written: August 31, 2012
Prior studies find that CEOs receive higher pay if the enterprise is more complex because more complex enterprises are, in theory, matched with the managerial skills of higher-ability CEOs. While multinational diversification is typically a characteristic of enterprise complexity, we argue that multinational diversification also introduces a risk that executives will divert an enterprise’s resources to obtain private benefits. We first establish that CEO pay is, on average, increasing in the extent of multinational diversification, consistent with intuition that more complex enterprises are matched to higher‐ability CEOs. We then demonstrate that the CEO pay‐for‐complexity premium is lower if the multinational diversification reflects a relatively high risk of managerial diversion. For sufficiently high levels of multinational diversification accompanied by a high risk of managerial diversion, we find that CEOs receive a relative reduction in pay rather than a pay premium for multinational diversification. We also find evidence that this pay effect occurs in part through adjustments to a CEO’s pay‐for‐performance sensitivity.
Keywords: CEO compensation, diversification, complexity
JEL Classification: J31, J33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation