Director compensation, ceo turnover, ceo entrenchment, board entrenchment, board structure, sarbanes oxley act, recession, corporate governance, firm value


This dissertation consists of three essays on the effect of excess compensation and corporate governance changes on the firm’s performance. The first paper utilizes a cost minimization stochastic frontier approach to investigate the efficiency of director total compensation. Our findings suggest that board members are over compensated. We show that, on average, the director actual compensation level is above the efficient compensation level by around 63%. Our results suggest that an increase in director excess compensation decreases the likelihood of CEO turnover, reduces the turnover-performance sensitivity, and increases managerial entrenchment. Thus, the surplus in director compensation is directly associated with managerial job security and entrenchment. Furthermore, although director excess compensation is not significantly inversely related to the firm’s future performance, it has an indirect negative effect on future performance through its impact on the entrenchment-performance relationship. Therefore, this essay proposes that the overcompensation of directors is directly associated with a board culture predicated by mutual back-scratching and collusion between the CEO and the board members. The second essay tests the effect of an exogenous shock, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) of 2002, on the structure of corporate boards and their efficiency as a monitoring mechanism. The results suggest an increase in the participation of independent directors at the expense of insiders. Consequently, we investigate the implications of board composition changes on CEO turnover and firm value. We document a noticeable reduction in CEO turnover in the post-SOX period. We also demonstrate that, after SOX, a board dominated by independent directors is less likely to remove a CEO due to poor performance. Finally, we highlight a negative association between the change in board composition and firm value. We propose that our findings are predicated on an off equilibrium result whereby firms were forced to modify iv their endogenously chosen board composition. Therefore, contrary to the legislators’ objectives, we suggest that the change in board structure brought about inefficient monitoring and promoted an unfavorable tradeoff between independent directors and insiders. The third essay examines the relationship between the firm’s governance structure and its value during different economic conditions. We show that both relative industry turnover and CEO entrenchment increase during economic downturns. We also find that relative industry turnover and managerial entrenchment have opposite impacts on the value of the firm throughout the recessionary period. While industry turnover leads to an appreciation in firm value, managerial entrenchment reduces shareholders’ wealth. The negative impact of managerial entrenchment on firm value, however, outweighs the positive impact of industry turnover. Accordingly, we propose that a recession provides managers with a good opportunity to camouflage their behavior and extract more private benefits and, thus, blame the poor performance on bad economic conditions.


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Graduation Date





Frye, Melissa


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Business Administration

Degree Program

Business Administration; Finance








Release Date

May 2012

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Business Administration -- Dissertations, Academic, Dissertations, Academic -- Business Administration