Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Business Administration

Major Professor

Joseph V. Carcello

Committee Members

Larry A. Fauver, Joan MacLeod Heminway, Terry L. Neal


This paper investigates whether CEO supplemental executive retirement plans (SERPs) are associated with firm risk. Sundaram and Yermack (2007) show that CEOs manage their firms more conservatively as their debt incentives increase. Using new executive compensation disclosures mandated by the SEC, I find a negative association between CEO SERPs and firm risk but only for unsheltered SERPs. I find that when a CEO SERP is protected by a lump sum payment or by a trust (i.e. sheltered), the negative association between SERPs and firm risk is greatly diminished and even eliminated in some models. Furthermore, I show that having a greater proportion of outside CEOs on a compensation committee when a new CEO is hired is associated with a higher likelihood of the new CEO having a SERP. These findings have implications for the method in which executives are compensated with retirement pay and address the SEC’s growing concern about the link between compensation and firm risk management practices.

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