The Effect of National Culture on CEO Compensation: Evidence from Europe and North America

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Företagsekonomiska institutionen; Uppsala universitet/Företagsekonomiska institutionen; Uppsala universitet/Företagsekonomiska institutionen

Abstract:

The purpose of this paper is to determine the extent to which culture, in six European and two North-American countries, affects CEO compensation. If differences in culture between countries can provide an explanation for cross-national differences in CEO compensation, it may increase multinational corporations understanding of how to design CEO compensations in the countries where they operate. Acquiring such knowledge would maximize the effect of their compensation plans. The study relates cultural dimensions to total CEO compensation and the ratio between variable compensation and total CEO compensation.

Cultural data, which comprises the study’s theoretical foundation, is based on the GLOBE study (House et al., 2004). Of the GLOBE study’s nine cultural dimensions, the study examines the five dimensions found most relevant to CEO compensation practices; performance orientation, uncertainty avoidance, institutional collectivism, future orientation and power distance. The research has been conducted through a regression analysis of 240, both private and publically listed companies. Companies with a turnover above €49 million or at least 250 employees were randomly chosen in Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, United States, Canada, France, Ireland and United Kingdom.

The study’s results shows that the cultural dimensions examined, to different extent do affect CEO compensation. The results show total CEO compensation to be negatively related to institutional collectivism, power distance and performance orientation. Further, total CEO compensation is positively related to future orientation. The proportion of variable compensation to total CEO compensation is negatively related to institutional collectivism and uncertainty avoidance. The proportion of variable compensation to total CEO compensation is positively related with future orientation. Thus we conclude that culture can contribute to understand cross-national differences in CEO compensation.

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