IS THERE A FIRM-SIZE EFFECT IN CEO STOCK OPTION GRANTS?

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Bruce Rosser, Jean Canil

DOI:10.22495/cocv6i1p12

Abstract

Schaefer (1998) and Baker and Hall (2004) posit a firm size effect for regular executive compensation but not specifically for executive stock option grants. They propose an inverse relation between pay-performance sensitivity and firm size along with a positive relation between the marginal productivity of executive effort and firm size. The product of pay-performance sensitivity and executive productivity is „incentive strength‟. They find a weakly positive association between incentive strength and firm size. We substitute Hall and Murphy‟s (2002) pay-performance sensitivity metric to detect a firm size effect in CEO stock option grants. After adjusting for small-firm risk aversion and private diversification „clienteles‟, we document evidence of a residual small-firm effect impacting on incentive strength principally through grant size. Given lower small-firm deltas, grant size appears to have been increased by compensation committees to ensure small-firm CEOs are not under-compensated relative to their large-firm counterparts. We also find that firm complexity influences pay-performance sensitivity as well, but not labor productivity (proxying for CEO productivity). No evidence is found that firm smallness and complexity impact on labor productivity. However, we empirically confirm a negative relation between pay-performance sensitivity and firm smallness and, by implication, firm complexity.

Keywords: Stock Options. CEO, Firm Size

How to cite this paper: Rosser, B., & Canil, J. (2008). Is there a firm-size effect in CEO stock option grants?. Corporate Ownership & Control, 6(1), 115-126. http://dx.doi.org/10.22495/cocv6i1p12