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Executives' pay–performance link in China: evidence from independent and gender-diverse compensation committees

Muhammad Usman (School of Accounting, Nanjing Audit University, Nanjing, China)
Muhammad Abubakkar Siddique (School of Management, Xian Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China)
Muhammad Abdul Majid Makki (Department of Commerce, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur Pakistan, Bahawalpur, Pakistan)
Ammar Ali Gull (Essex Business School, University of Essex, Colchester, UK)
Ali Dardour (Kedge Business School, Talence, France)
Junming Yin (School of Accounting, Nanjing Audit University, Nanjing, China)

International Journal of Emerging Markets

ISSN: 1746-8809

Article publication date: 16 July 2020

Abstract

Purpose

In this paper, the authors investigate whether an independent and gender-diverse compensation committee strengthens the relationship between top managers' pay and firm performance in Chinese companies. The authors also investigate whether the independent compensation committee composed of all male directors is effective in designing the optimal contract for executives.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use data from A-share listed companies on the Shenzhen and Shanghai stock exchanges from 2005 to 2015. As a baseline methodology, the authors use pooled ordinary least square (OLS) regression to draw inferences. In addition, cluster OLS regression, two-stage least square regression, the two-stage Heckman test and the propensity score matching method are also used to control for endogeneity issues.

Findings

The authors find evidence that an independent or gender-diverse compensation committee strengthens the link between top managers' pay and firm performance; that the presence of a woman on the compensation committee enhances the positive influence of committee independence on this relationship; that a compensation committee's independence or gender diversity is more effective in designing top managers' compensation in legal-person-controlled firms than they are in state-controlled firms; that gender diversity on the compensation committee is negatively associated with top managers' total pay; and that an independent compensation committee pays top managers more.

Practical implications

The study results highlight the role of an independent compensation committee in designing optimal contracts for top managers. The authors provide empirical evidence that a woman on the compensation committee strengthens its objectivity in determining top managers' compensation. The study finding supports regulatory bodies' recommendations regarding independent and women directors.

Social implications

The study findings contribute to the recent debate about gender equality around the globe. Given the discrimination against women, many regulatory bodies mandate a quota for women on corporate boards. The study findings support the regulatory bodies' recommendations by highlighting the economic benefit of having women in top management positions.

Originality/value

This study contributes to literature by investigating the largely overlooked questions of whether having a gender-diverse or independent compensation committee strengthens the relationship between top managers' pay and firm performance; whether an independent compensation committee is more efficient in setting executives' pay when it is gender-diverse; and whether the effect of independent directors and female directors on top managers' compensation varies based on the firm's ownership structure. Overall, the main contribution of the study is that the authors provide robust empirical evidence in support of the managerial power axiom.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Project funded by the Youth Fund Project of Humanities and Social Sciences Research of MOE, China (19YJC630223) and The Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions and Jiangsu “333” Project (BRA2019271).

Citation

Usman, M., Siddique, M.A., Makki, M.A.M., Gull, A.A., Dardour, A. and Yin, J. (2020), "Executives' pay–performance link in China: evidence from independent and gender-diverse compensation committees", International Journal of Emerging Markets, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOEM-09-2019-0701

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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