To read this content please select one of the options below:

The social construction of executive pay: governance processes and institutional isomorphism

Stephen J. Perkins (London Metropolitan University, London, UK)
Susan Shortland (The School of Organisations, Economy and Society (SOES), Westminster Business School, University of Westminster, London, UK)

Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance

ISSN: 2051-6614

Article publication date: 8 July 2022

Issue publication date: 22 September 2022




The purpose of this paper is to explore the social construction of executive pay in the UK via an examination of narratives drawn from the social actors on the front-line of Key Management Personnel (KMP) pay determination.


The authors' qualitative research draws upon in-depth interviews with non-executive directors (NEDs) serving on remuneration committees, institutional investors, and independent pay consultants.


Regulation, market pricing and risk mitigation together with the social processes inherent within discharging corporate governance responsibilities create a status-quo-preserving isomorphic effect, restricting context-sensitive approaches to KMP pay determination.

Practical implications

The paper informs action by company directors, investors and policy makers to address KMP pay controversies, building shared accountability amongst decision-makers focussed on more strategic context-aligned processes and outcomes.


The authors' analysis illustrates how institutional isomorphism can be applied to analyse social actors' interpretations within KMP pay decision-making. The authors show that normative, coercive and mimetic isomorphic forces must be applied in dynamic interaction to extend the explanatory power of institutional isomorphism through the creation of a “No-Come-In” effect in respect of contemporary KMP pay determination settings.



The authors wish to thank Laura Baker for the assistance in the design of Figures 1 and 2.


Perkins, S.J. and Shortland, S. (2022), "The social construction of executive pay: governance processes and institutional isomorphism", Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance, Vol. 9 No. 4, pp. 610-636.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles