Are Managers Paid for Market Power?

picture of Jan Eeckhout
Room 11, Sarfatti Building
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Jan Eeckhout (UPF)
Abstract

To answer the question whether managers are paid for market power, we propose a theory of executive compensation in an economy where firms have market power, and the market for man- agers is competitive. We identify two distinct channels that contribute to manager pay in the model: market power and firm size. Both increase the profitability of the firm, which makes managers more valuable as it increases their marginal product. Using data on executive compensation from Com- pustat, we quantitatively analyze how market power affects Manager Pay and how it changes over time. We attribute on average 45.8% of Manager Pay to market power, from 38.0% in 1994 to 48.8% in 2019. Over this period, market power accounts for 57.8% of growth. We also find there is a lot of heterogeneity within the distribution of managers. For the top managers, 80.3% of their pay in 2019 is due to market power. Top managers are hired disproportionately by firms with market power, and they get rewarded for it, increasingly so.