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An Analysis of SEC Clawback Provisions in terms of Loss-Aversion and Narcissism

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Executive compensation is broken into two parts: one fixed and one variable. The fixed component of executive compensation is the annual salary and the variable components are performance-based incentives. Clawback

Executive compensation is broken into two parts: one fixed and one variable. The fixed component of executive compensation is the annual salary and the variable components are performance-based incentives. Clawback provisions of executive compensation are designed to require executives to return performance-based, variable compensation that was erroneously awarded in the year of a misstatement. This research shows the need for the use of a new clawback provision that combines aspects of the two currently in regulation. In our current federal regulation, there are two clawback provisions in play: Section 304 of Sarbanes-Oxley and section 954 of The Dodd\u2014Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. This paper argues for the use of an optimal clawback provision that combines aspects of both the current SOX provision and the Dodd-Frank provision, by integrating the principles of loss aversion and narcissism. These two factors are important to consider when designing a clawback provision, as it is generally accepted that average individuals are loss averse and executives are becoming increasingly narcissistic. Therefore, when attempting to mitigate the risk of a leader keeping erroneously awarded executive compensation, the decision making factors of narcissism and loss aversion must be taken into account. Additionally, this paper predicts how compensation structures will shift post-implementation. Through a survey analyzing the level of both loss- aversion and narcissism in respondents, the research question justifies the principle that people are loss averse and that a subset of the population show narcissistic tendencies. Both loss aversion and narcissism drove the results to suggest there are benefits to both clawback provisions and that a new provision that combines elements of both is most beneficial in mitigating the risk of executives receiving erroneously awarded compensation. I concluded the most optimal clawback provision is mandatory for all public companies (Dodd-Frank), targets all executives (Dodd-Frank), and requires the recuperation of the entire bonus, not just that which was in excess of what should have been received (SOX).

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Date Created
  • 2018-12