A firm’s board of directors, based on its risk tolerance or “appetite,” sets the corporate objectives. It is then the management’s job to meet the objectives by adopting appropriate strategies. However, the board can design compensation policies to encourage desired management strategy choices. This paper explores the extent to which management compensation policies are aligned with strategy choices for obtaining new technology. Firms obtain new technology either through internal R&D or through acquisitions, often labeled “make” and “buy” strategies, respectively. The “make” strategy is inherently more risky, with much of the high risk idiosyncratic. Furthermore, U.S. GAAP requires that R&D expenditures be expensed but allows capitalization of acquisition costs, thus a firm using the “make” as opposed to the “buy” strategy will experience a greater negative effect on accounting earnings. I hypothesize that these differences will lead risk-averse and utility-maximizing managers to implement the “buy” strategy if their compensation is heavily weighted on accounting-based performance measures. Conversely, managers with more stock-based compensation, especially stock options, are more likely to choose to develop new technology internally. Using data from U.S. high-tech industries and a simultaneous equations regression framework, I find evidence consistent with the above hypotheses.
Review of Accounting Studies – Springer Journals
Published: May 12, 2007
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