Research Seminars

Managerial Power and CEO Pay

Accounting & Management Control

Speaker: Robert F Göx
University of Zurich

16 March 2018 - HEC Paris - Room T004 - From 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

We study the consequences of the CEO’s power over the board of directors in the context of a standard agency model. Our results indicate that a CEO-friendly board affects the structure of the optimal compensation contract in a more subtle way than suggested by the managerial power approach. First, we find that the optimal compensation level is not an increasing function of the CEO’s power. According to our analysis, a friendly board generally raises CEO pay for low performance levels but reduces it for high performance levels. Second, we find that the pay-performance sensitivity (PPS) typically varies with the firm’s performance. Third, we identify conditions for which the optimal contract implemented by a friendly board exhibits a higher PPS than the contract that maximizes the utility of shareholders. As a special case of the general model, we derive an optimal quadratic contract. In this setting, a more friendly board always proposes a contract with a higher salary, more stocks, and the same number of options. In an extension of our base model, we examine how a friendly board affects the optimal use and the rules for aggregating multiple performance measures into a single performance index. While we find that both decisions are generally not affected by the friendliness of the board, we identify conditions under which the sensitivity of CEO pay-to-peer-performance is increasing in the CEO’s power over the board. Overall, our results suggest that neither high pay levels nor the magnitude of the sensitivities of the CEO’s pay to the firm’s own performance or the performance of its peers can be taken as indicators for or against the soundness of firms’ compensation practices without relating these measures to the realized values of the performance measures used in the optimal compensation contract.

Nonbank Lending


Speaker: Sergey Chernenko
Fisher College of Business

15 March 2018 - T004 - From 2:00 pm to 3:15 pm


We provide novel systematic evidence on the terms of direct lending by nonbank financial institutions. Analyzing hand-collected data for a random sample of publicly-traded middle-market firms during the 2010-2015 period, we find that lending from nonbank financial institutions is substantial, with 30% of all loans being extended by nonbanks. Firms are more likely to borrow from a nonbank lender if local banks are poorly capitalized and less concentrated. Nonbank borrowers are smaller, riskier, and significantly more likely to have negative EBITDA. Nonbank lenders are less likely to include financial covenants in their loans, but appear to engage in substantial ex-ante screening: origination of nonbank loans is associated with larger positive announcement returns while ex-post performance is not distinguishable from bank loans. We also find that nonbank borrowers pay about 200 basis points higher interest rates than bank borrowers do. Using fuzzy regression discontinuity design and matching techniques generates similar results. Overall, our results provide evidence of market segmentation in the commercial loan market, where bank and nonbank lenders utilize different lending technologies and cater to different types of borrowers.

Societal Trust and Corporate Tax Avoidance

Accounting & Management Control

Speaker: Kiridaran Kanagaretnam
Schulich School of Business

14 March 2018 - HEC Paris - Room T004 - From 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Using an international sample of firms from 25 countries and a country-level index for societal trust, we document strong evidence that societal trust is negatively associated with tax avoidance, even after controlling for other institutional determinants such as home country legal institutions, capital market development, and tax system characteristics. We then explore the effects of two country-level institutional characteristics – strength of legal institutions and capital market pressure – on the relation between societal trust and tax avoidance. We predict and find that the relation between trust and tax avoidance is more pronounced when the legal institutions in a country are weaker and the capital market pressure is stronger. Finally, we examine the relation between societal trust and tax evasion. We show that societal trust is negatively related to tax evasion, an extreme and illegal form of tax avoidance, and the negative relation is more pronounced when the legal institutions are weaker.

The Effect of Exogenous Information on Voluntary Disclosure and Market Quality

Accounting & Management Control

Speaker: Ilan Guttman
New York University

9 March 2018 - HEC Paris - Room T004 - From 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

We analyze a game in which a firm chooses whether to disclose information, knowing this information may be published by a third party, such as an analyst. We analyze how the firm's disclosure strategy is affected by probability of disclosure by the third party; we refer to this probability as analyst coverage. Under plausible assumptions, analyst coverage crowds out disclosure. Despite the crowding out effect, we argue that an increase in analyst coverage increases aggregate information. We base this claim on
two measures of information in prices. The first is statistical in nature while the second relies on liquidity in a model in which following information disclosure there is trade. We show how an increase in analyst coverage increases liquidity as measured by the bid ask spread.

Subnational Debt of China: The Politics-Finance Nexus


Speaker: Dragon Tang
School of Economics and Finance, HKU

8 March 2018 - T004 - From 2:00 pm to 3:15 pm


Using comprehensive proprietary loan-level data, we analyze debt borrowing and default of local governments in China. Contrary to conventional wisdom, policy bank loans to local governments have significantly lower default rates than commercial bank loans with similar characteristics.
Due to the importance of policy bank loans for the advancement of local politicians’ careers, distressed local governments often strategically choose to default on loans from commercial banks. This selection became more pronounced after the abrupt ending of the “4-trillion” stimulus, when China started tightening local government borrowing. Our findings shed light on a potential approach to hardening budget constraints for local governments.

Competition within and across market positions: Strategic Responses to Entry Threats

Strategy & Business Policy

Speaker: Yue Maggie Zhou
Assistant Professor of Strategy , University of Michigan

5 March 2018 - Room # T004 - From 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm

This paper unites the literature on market positions and competitive interactions to examine incumbent responses to the entry threat of a low-cost firm. We adapt a theoretical model of capacity expansion to show that the cost of the incumbent’s competitive response and the entrant’s cost of entry influence the incumbent’s response. We argue that both these costs vary with the prior choices (i.e., market positions) of incumbents and entrants. Using data on incumbent responses to entry threats from Southwest Airlines between 2003 and 2012, we find that: (1) full-service carriers expanded capacity while low-cost carriers avoided competition, and (2) full-service carriers expanded capacity less aggressively in markets that had less substitutive customer segments.

Real Externalities of Mandatory Disclosures: Evidence from the Oil and Gas Industry

Accounting & Management Control

Speaker: Bjorn Jorgensen
London School of Economics

26 January 2018 - HEC Paris - Room T020 - From 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

This paper documents real externalities of firms’ mandatory disclosures. We focus our analysis on the regulatory disclosure of oil and gas (O&G) reserves, a setting in which mandatory information is particularly important to understand industry competition. Using a comprehensive sample of Canadian and US O&G producers, we hypothesize and find that larger increases in reserves are accompanied by lower stock returns and increases in investment for competing firms. These findings are consistent with O&G disclosures containing competition-sensitive information. To sharpen identification, we exploit three sources of institutional variation. First, the North-American pipeline infrastructure constrains the supply of natural gas, and thus competition in the gas market, but not the supply of oil. Second, the introduction of the fracking technology substantially altered the competition dynamics in the natural gas market. Third, mandatory O&G disclosure rules were modified in Canada and the US in a similar fashion, albeit at different points in time. Consistent with mandatory disclosure of O&G reserves imposing proprietary costs, we also find that, under the new rules, disclosing firms appear to be less able to exploit their competitive advantage. Overall, our evidence highlights important trade-offs in the market-wide effects of disclosure regulation.

Physical Attractiveness in the Workplace

Management & Human Resources

Speaker: Margaret Lee
London Business School

11 December 2017 - Bernard Ramanantsoa room - From 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm

Work in psychology and economics documents a robust attractiveness bias: People tend to attribute positive qualities and give better outcomes to attractive individuals. Research shows this bias exists in workplace-relevant decisions such as selection decisions, performance evaluations, and wages. However, much of this research is surprisingly lacking consideration for the organizational context. I present two projects that each examine a contextual factor that improves our understanding of how the attractiveness bias affects workplace behavior and outcomes. In the first, I present studies that show that when hiring for jobs that are considered to be relatively less desirable, the attractiveness bias is reversed such that selectors are more likely to hire a less attractive candidate. In the second project, I present evidence that shows that an additional path to advantage in organizations for attractive individuals is through their better interactions with coworkers. I propose that attractive individuals receive more help from their coworkers, which in turn positively affects their performance and outcomes. In all, this research highlights that well-established general conclusions from social psychology might change when we take organizational contexts into account.


Speaker: Fred Malherbe
London Business School

7 December 2017 - T015 - From 2:00 pm to 3:15 pm

Financial Innovation and Asset Prices


Speaker: Raman Uppal
EDHEC Business School

30 November 2017 - T025 - From 2:00 pm to 3:15 pm