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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Essays on executive compensation Wu, Shuo

Abstract

This thesis consists of two studies in the area of executive compensation. The first examines the effect of boards of directors’ characteristics on the degree of compensation efficiency with respect to the use of private information. I predict and find that boards’ competence both in information acquisition and in monitoring influence the extent to which boards use private performance measures in CEO compensation. Specifically, smaller and more independent boards with their CEOs as the board chair are more efficient in exploiting private performance measures. Furthermore, the better a board balances its information role with its monitoring role, the more efficient it is in exploiting private performance measures. No asymmetry is found in rewarding and punishing CEOs based on private information. The second study investigates the mechanism to inflate the value of executive stock options after Sarbanes-Oxley Act Section 403 (SOX 403), which requires that executive option grants be reported to the SEC within two business days following the grant day. As this requirement largely restricts backdating of executive option grants, I examine whether firms that previously backdated resort to alternative strategies after SOX. Using firms that were relatively free from backdating before SOX as a control group, I find that in the post-SOX period previous backdating firms exhibit a significantly larger return reversal around option grant dates, suggesting some sort of opportunistic behavior is still going on in these firms. Furthermore, I find that post-SOX option grant filings of previous backdating firms are as timely as those of the non-backdating control group, and that the large return reversals are associated with a pattern consistent with strategic timing of grants and disclosures; that is, a larger proportion of option grants are issued right after bad news (before good news) than right before bad news (after good news). These findings suggest that firms that previously backdated engage in strategic timing as an alternative mechanism to lower the grant-date stock price in the post-SOX period.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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