Bank performance and executive pay: tournament or teamwork


Yu, P. and Van Luu, Bac 2015. Bank performance and executive pay: tournament or teamwork. Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting.
AuthorsYu, P. and Van Luu, Bac

We investigate the relationship between the dispersion of executive pay and bank performance/valuation by examining two competing theories, the tournament theory (hierarchical wage structure) and the equity fairness theory (compressed wage structure). The key variable of executive pay dispersion is measured using a hand-collected dataset composed of 63 banks from OECD countries and 29 banks from developing countries. The dataset covers the period 2004 to 2012. By combining and modifying a translog profit function and a pay-dispersion model, we are able to address the potential problems of relying on reduced-form estimation. In our subsample of developed and civil law countries, where bank performance is measured by either Tobin’s Q or by the price-to-book ratio, the overall impact of executive pay dispersion is mostly negative, and we find supporting evidence for the equity fairness theory, except for very high levels of dispersion. There is a non-linear effect, as banks perform best when there is either very low or very high executive pay dispersion. For developing country sample banks, greater executive pay dispersion has a negative impact on bank profit. In our subsample of common law countries, however, we find no evidence of a significant impact of executive pay dispersion on bank performance. We conclude that lower executive pay dispersion, a proxy for teamwork, is mostly effective in enhancing bank performance in a significant section of sample banks, i.e., civil law and developing countries.

JournalReview of Quantitative Finance and Accounting
Accepted author manuscript
Web address (URL)
Publication dates
Print03 May 2015
Publication process dates
Deposited11 May 2015
Accepted01 Apr 2015
Copyright informationThe final publication is available at Springer via
Page rangeIn Press
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