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Essays on adaptation, innovation incentives and compensation structure

Lu, Yiqing (2015) Essays on adaptation, innovation incentives and compensation structure. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis explores both theoretically and empirically how firms design employees’ compensation contracts to motivate them to work and to adapt to external changes under an informed principal framework. The first chapter analyzes how a principal, privately informed about the changing market condition, structures the agent’s incentive contract to inform and motivate her to adapt. The results show that a failure to overturn employees’ belief about the changing market condition could lead to insufficient adaptation. Further, a more pressing market condition induces earlier adaptation and greater information revelation. Finally, the compensation structure underpinning insufficient adaptation imposes a legacy problem due to excessive use of long-term incentives, which restrains the reconfiguration of the contract in place. Based on the first chapter, the second chapter aims to explain asymmetric contractual adjustment of CEO compensation, only upward but not downward. I argue that a principal, privately informed about the firm’s changing productive efficiency, uses contracts to provide the agent with not only working incentives but also information about her productivity. The principal commits to a back-loaded compensation plan with an increasing salary or with an increasing short-term performance pay. Such rigid contracts achieve greater efficiency by inducing more efforts from the agent through profit sharing. The third chapter, co-authored with Peggy Huang and Moqi Xu, finds CEO contracts explicitly account for subjective reviews in a new dataset of CEO contracts and stated reasons for compensation changes. Our results suggest that firms prefer to keep early R&D successes from the public and thus raise salaries for early R&D success not yet realized in performance measures. Consistent with this explanation, standalone salary increases predict better long-run portfolio and stock returns, but only following positive subjective evaluations and in firms with high R&D investment.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2015 Yiqing Lu
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Sets: Departments > Finance
Supervisor: Ferreira, Daniel and Yuan, Kathy

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