Publication Details

Shan, Y. & Walter, T. (2016). Towards a Set of Design Principles for Executive Compensation Contracts. Abacus: a journal of accounting, finance and business studies, 52 (4), 619-684.


Executive compensation has been controversial for many years. Controversies over executive pay have sparked outrage from some sectors and calls for increased regulation and reform. Yet others argue that knee-jerk reactions to perceived abuses of pay can lead to a host of unintended and inefficient outcomes. This paper argues that much of this controversy is due to executives being rewarded via contracts that have weaknesses in design. We argue that few stakeholders in firms would object to generous compensation for managers whose performance results in abnormally high long-term shareholder wealth creation. We state a set of principles, developed from a review of the extensive theoretical, regulatory, and empirical literature, that we offer as fundamental building blocks for designing executive remuneration systems in public firms, especially where ownership and control are separated. Our purpose is to generate broad debate and discussion leading to a consensus as to the principles that should be present in all executive compensation contracts such that the interests of shareholders and managers are more closely aligned.

Included in

Business Commons



Link to publisher version (DOI)