Explaining the International CEO Pay Gap: Board Capture or Market Driven?
97 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2002 Last revised: 4 May 2017
Date Written: November 14, 2002
The large gap between American CEO pay and foreign CEO pay is one of the biggest puzzles in executive compensation. Recent scholarship has suggested that it is the result of board capture. This theory claims that the pay gap arises because in the U.S. passive friendly directors award their CEOs huge pay increases, while in other countries tight-fisted control shareholders suppress CEO pay levels.
This paper criticizes board capture theory and then develops four market-based theories that offer persuasive alternative explanations for the international CEO pay gap. It argues that market forces will determine whether the pay gap will disappear and that current proposals for government intervention will be at best ineffective, and more likely counterproductive.
JEL Classification: K2, G3, J3, J33, J4, K22, M5
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