CEO compensation and firm performance in Japan: Evidence from new panel data on individual CEO pay

Kato, Takao; Kubo, Katsuyuki

Prior studies on Japanese executive compensation have been constrained by the lack of longitudinal data on individual CEO pay. Using unique 10-year panel data on individual CEO's salary and bonus of Japanese firms from 1986 to 1995, we present the first estimates on the performance sensitivity of Japanese CEO compensation. Specifically we find consistently that Japanese CEO's cash compensation is sensitive to firm performance (especially accounting measures), and that the sensitivity of CEO's cash compensation to ROA is 1.3 to 1.4, which is in general agreement with prior estimates elsewhere. As such, our estimates do not support that Japanese corporate governance is unusually defunct with regard to the significance and size of the sensitivity of CEO compensation to accounting profitability. On the other hand, to be consistent with the literature on Japanese corporate governance that tends to downplay the role of shareholders and stress the role of banks and employees, we find that stock market performance tends to play a less important role in the determination of Japanese CEO compensation. Finally, we find that the bonus system makes CEO compensation more sensitive to firm performance in Japan. The finding is in contrast to the literature on compensation for regular employees in Japan which often argues that bonus is a disguised base wage.

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Academic Units
Center on Japanese Economy and Business
Center on Japanese Economy and Business, Graduate School of Business, Columbia University
Center on Japanese Economy and Business Working Papers, 210
Published Here
February 11, 2011