The fattest of the fat cats: observations on Aguinis and colleagues’ findings on CEO pay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose: This paper aims to elaborate upon the work of Aguinis and colleagues (this issue), who showed that there is almost no overlap between the chief executive officers (CEOs; of American publicly traded corporations) who are in the upper tail of the CEO pay distribution and the firms that are in the upper tail of the performance distribution. Design/methodology/approach: This paper is an essay/commentary regarding the merits and implications of the paper by Aguinis and colleagues. Findings: Drawing upon prior work, the author proposes that CEOs’ tenure-long pay patterns are established – essentially baked-in or hardwired – when CEOs first get hired. For various reasons, some CEOs receive ultra-grand pay packages at the outset of their tenures, and nothing – including mediocre performance – brings about subsequent diminishment of those sweet terms. Research limitations/implications: This paper sheds new light on the work by Aguinis and colleagues, in turn contributing new insights about the fairness (or lack thereof) of CEO pay determinations. Originality/value: This paper integrates Aguinis and colleagues with prior works on CEO over- and underpayment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-37
Number of pages7
JournalManagement Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management


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