This study examines the links between financial performance and executive compensation for high-performance companies (HPC). HPC display sustained and superior cash flow returns, asset growth, and total shareholder returns. In previous empirical analysis, HPC companies displayed specific identifiable financial performance drivers and measures when compared to companies in the S&P 500 (Needles et al., 2004). Most recently, HPC sustained their high performance when compared to the S&P 500 over varied economic periods. Further, the research identified operating asset management characteristics of these companies, especially as they relate to the cash cycle (Needles et al., 2004). Continuing this stream of research, this study first identifies the financial and non-financial performance measures related to compensation of top management of HPC as reported in the companies’ public disclosures. Then, these findings for HPC are matched to a set of comparable non-HPC. Finally, we evaluate the stated performance measures for executive compensation in light of the performance drivers and measures identified by previous research to be distinguishing characteristics of HPC. We hypothesize that HPC will more closely align stated performance measures for executive compensation with performance characteristics that have been shown to be characteristics of HPC. We find that HPC are more focused and unambiguous in their use of both financial and non-financial performance measures in executive compensation.
Needles, B.E., Powers, M. and Frigo, M.L. (2008), "Performance measurement and executive compensation: Practices of high-performance companies", Epstein, M.J. and Manzoni, J.-F. (Ed.) Performance Measurement and Management Control: Measuring and Rewarding Performance (Studies in Managerial and Financial Accounting, Vol. 18), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 303-322. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1479-3512(08)18013-3
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