Tag Archives: stakeholders

More Evidence of the Damage Done by Kleptocrat CEO Pay

I have been writing about the problems of overpaid executives that has lately become so bad that verbiage understand the nature of the problem. Today I see many CEO’s are acting as kleptocrats do – taking food out of others mouths to build their castles. The damage done to everyone else involved is of no concern. Both groups love bankers that flood them with cash for new and larger castles at the expense of the futures of their company (or country).

This paper does a very good job of providing more evidence of the damage done by these kleptocrat CEOs and their apologists.

Are Top Executives Paid Enough? An Evidence-Based Review by Philippe Jacquart and J. Scott Armstrong

Our review of the evidence found that the notion that higher pay leads to the selection of better executives is undermined by the prevalence of poor recruiting methods. Moreover, higher pay fails to promote better performance. Instead, it undermines the intrinsic motivation of executives, inhibits their learning, leads them to ignore other stakeholders, and discourages them from considering the long-term effects of their decisions on stakeholders. Relating incentive payments to executives’ actions in an effective manner is not possible. Incentives also encourage unethical behaviour. Organizations would benefit from using validated methods to hire top executives, reducing compensation, eliminating incentive plans, and strengthening stockholder governance related to the hiring and compensation of executives.

Many of the problems with the poor thinking around executive pay stem from the failure to grasp ideas Dr. Deming wrote about decades ago.

Executives are often evaluated on the basis of the success or failure of the business units for which they are responsible. In practice, many internal and external factors influence outcomes for firms, and assessing the role played by a given executive is not possible. For example, should a manager get credit for a firm’s success when the economy is booming or blame for the firm’s losses during a recession? When answering such questions, evaluators are biased toward ignoring contextual factors and overly attributing outcomes to leaders. This bias was illustrated in a laboratory experiment in which groups of participants had to solve a coordination task. In the experiment, group size varied, and participants could perceive that the task was harder when the group was larger. Despite this, participants credited group leaders for the success of small groups and blamed them for the failure of large groups (Weber et al. 2001).

The quote from their paper show a failure to understand variation (attributing variation to those near the variation at the time – good marks when the variation is good, bad marks when it is bad). And a failure to understand the organization as a system (the results of any subsystem are greatly influenced by the whole system and the conditions outside the system (the economy, the macro-economic conditions for the industry…). And a failure to understand the theory of knowledge: people should know our brains leap to causation explanations when the evidence doesn’t support it. Then confirmation bias and psychology lead us to accept the data that supports our biases.

Nonexperimental studies also find that increases in CEO compensation occur following increases in firm performance that result from factors beyond the CEO’s control—CEOs are paid for being lucky. For example, CEOs in the oil industry were compensated for increased profits resulting from fluctuations in the price of crude oil—a factor beyond their control (Bertrand and Mullainathan 2001).

You see this just looking at the money heaped onto executives (in addition to the already huge payments taken) in industries whenever those industries (not individual companies, the entire industry) have macro-economic windfalls.

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Tilting at Ludicrous CEO Pay 2008

I continue to tilt at the robber barron CEO pay packages (2007 post on CEO pay abuses).

2007 pay
Company CEO Pay 5 Year Pay CEO % of 2007 Earnings
1 Apple Steve Jobs $646,600,000 $650,170,000
2 Occidental Petroleum Ray Irani $321,640,000 $509,530,000
3 IAC Barry Diller $295,140,000 $512,270,000
Company Lost Money
4 Fidelity National Financial William Folley $179,560,000 NA
5 Yahoo! Terry Semel $174,200,000 $432,490,000
7 Countrywide Financial Angelo Mozilo $141,980,000 $295,730,000
Company Lost Money
13 XTO Energy Bob Simpson $72,270,000 $215,280,000

Data via: Forbes CEO Compensation (Total compensation for each chief executive includes the following: salary and bonuses; other compensation, such as vested restricted stock grants, LTIP payouts and perks; and stock gains, the value realized by exercising stock options.) and Google Finance (using 2007 earnings – Countrywide from SEC). I realize this chart could be improved by spending more time (the effect of stock options exercised in one year distorts things a bit but the excess are so massively huge that the clarity of the data does not need to be very precise).
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Management Improvement Carnival #34

Please submit your favorite management posts to the carnival. Read the previous management carnivals.

  • Introduction to Factorial Designs by Jonathan Mendez – “I like the idea of velocity in marketing — test, learn, test, learn, test. Instead of one large test I prefer focusing attention on certain areas or elements to achieve deeper understanding.”
  • MIT’s Message about Lean Enterprise Transformation by Mark Edmondson- “1. Market leaders are good at embracing enterprise change; 2. Enterprise change requires a holistic approach that engages all stakeholders. This includes employees, suppliers, customers, unions, and investors/owners”
  • Two Types of Bottleneck by David J. Anderson – “I now teach that there are two types of bottleneck: capacity constrained resources CCRs; and non-instant availability resources”
  • Oranges, Pebbles, and Sand by Ron Pereira – “In this video my daughters and I demonstrate how meeting an objective is just the beginning to improvement.”
  • Why errorproof when you can double-check? – “If you are in the position to prevent the error in the first place, why wouldn’t you? And, I’d argue, if you can write a tool to detect the screw up – ie, it is possible to programmatically figure out that the template is wrong,”
  • Systems and Improvement by John Dowd – “Thus did Deming, over sixty years ago, show a basic model about how to think about quality and improvement.”
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Corporations Do Not Exist Solely to Maximize the Bottom Line

Do corporations exist solely to maximize their bottom lines? We don’t think so., Forbes Magazine:

When Bill Gates suggested recently that corporations should sacrifice profits to the public welfare, practicing what he called “creative capitalism,” he wasn’t the first robber baron with the idea. Henry Ford made a similar proposal in 1916, but he was defeated in court by shareholders who preferred he simply issue dividends. The countervailing view, famously expounded by Milton Friedman, is that the only responsibility of business is to increase profits.

Customers are also demanding products that show a commitment to the public welfare. About 10% of new product introductions are environmentally sensitive–green lightbulbs and cars, for example.

Starbucks pays Ethiopian coffee farmers a 75% premium over market prices, believing this is better than passing out the equivalent in welfare. Pfizer is spending $570 million to develop and deliver treatment in the Third World for fungal infections caused by AIDS. This outlay won’t be recovered in product sales.

They don’t mention the importance of other stakeholder (employees, customers, suppliers – other than the Starbucks example) but still it is nice to read some support for the principles Deming supported: the corporation seeking to benefit all stakeholders.

Related: Curious Cat management search engineDeming on ManagementFocus on Customers and Employees