Option-based executive compensation and risk-taking behavior

  1. Belda Ruiz, María
Dirixida por:
  1. Gregorio Sánchez Marín Director
  2. Juan Samuel Baixauli Soler Director

Universidade de defensa: Universidad de Murcia

Fecha de defensa: 06 de febreiro de 2015

  1. Matilde Olvido Fernández Blanco Presidente/a
  2. Antonio Aragón Sánchez Secretario/a
  3. Ruth Mateos de Cabo Vogal
  4. Antonio Luis Duréndez Gómez-Guillamón Vogal
  5. Brian G. M. Main Vogal

Tipo: Tese


Option-based executive compensation provides incentives to alter the firm’s risk profile through the sensitivity of executive wealth to changes in the firm’s stock price (delta) and the sensitivity of executive wealth to changes in stock return volatility (vega). The aim of this thesis is to examine in detail the incentives provided by executive stock options (ESOs), delta and vega, by using appropriate ESO valuation models, as well as their effects on executive risk-taking behavior. This thesis has been conducted using wide samples of US firms that are included in the S&P 1500 index. The findings indicate that research focused on stock options and their influence on risk taking is not robust to the use of different valuation models. In order to obtain right conclusions about delta and vega and their effects on risk taking, it is necessary to use specific ESO valuation models. When performance-vested stock options are analyzed, the findings indicate that the increase in the performance-vesting condition is associated with lower delta and higher vega. The results also show the importance of considering the executive’s voluntary early exercise in the design of performance-vested option plans. Regarding the effect of ESOs on executive risk-taking behavior, the findings show an inverted U-shaped relationship between the wealth created by ESOs and risk taking behavior. This relationship is based on the combination of agency theory perspective and the behavioral agency model (BAM). In addition, when the risk taking behavior of the entire top management team (TMT) is examined, the findings indicate that those TMTs in which there is female representation exhibit more conservative behavior compared to that of non-gender diverse TMTs. Focusing on the individual risk-taking behavior of executives, female executives are not willing to bear so much risk as their male counterparts and adopt less risky behavior. Finally, the findings show that CEOs adopt riskier behavior than non-CEO executives when they receive stock options. The evidence showed in this thesis provides compensation committees with useful tools that facilitate the design of stock option plans.