Executive Pay and Performance: The Moderating Effect of CEO Power and Governance Structure

Collins Gyakari Ntim, Sarah Joanne Lindop, Dennis Aubrey Thomas, Hussein Abdou, Kawaku K. Opong

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This paper examines the crucial question of whether chief executive officer (CEO) power and corporate governance (CG) structure can moderate the pay-for-performance sensitivity (PPS) using a large up-to-date South African dataset. Our findings are three-fold. First, when direct links between executive pay and performance are examined, we find a positive, but relatively small PPS. Second, our results show that in a context of concentrated ownership and weak board structures; the second-tier agency conflict (director monitoring power and opportunism) is stronger than the first-tier agency problem (CEO power and self-interest). Third, additional analysis suggests that CEO power and CG structure have a moderating effect on the PPS. Specifically, we find that the PPS is higher in firms with more reputable, founding and shareholding CEOs, higher ownership by directors and institutions, and independent nomination and remuneration committees, but lower in firms with larger boards, more powerful, and long-tenured CEOs. Overall, our evidence sheds new important theoretical and empirical insights on explaining the PPS with specific focus on the predictions of the optimal contracting and managerial power hypotheses. The findings are generally robust across a raft of econometric models that control for different types of endogeneities, pay, and performance proxies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)921-963
Number of pages39
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2017


  • executive pay
  • corporate performance
  • corporate governance
  • CEO power
  • endogeneity
  • South Africa


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