Benchmarking of Johannesburg Stock Exchange CEO compensation

23 June 2014

The purpose of the study is to empirically compare CEO compensation benchmarks set by the frequently used Linear Regression Analysis (LRA), which is based on “averages” and Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA), which is based on “best practices”. To fulfill this purpose, an empirical investigation on South African listed companies was executed using a sample of 187 Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) companies, grouped into three categories according to their sizes by using total assets, i.e. large, medium and small companies. For the LRA model, total CEO compensation is the dependent variable (y) with return on equity (as a measurement of performance) and total assets (as measurement of company size) as the independent variables (x). In the LRA model, the expected CEO compensation was calculated as a benchmark for each company and then compared to the actual value of the CEO compensation. In the DEA model, total CEO compensation is the input variable and return on equity and total assets the two output variables. The input-orientated technical efficiency estimate was calculated and the input targets (benchmarks for CEO compensation) set by the DEA model were compared to the actual CEO compensation. The study found that, using the LRA model, CEOs are on average actually underpaid in monetary terms by 36.8%, 33.2% and 17.8% for the large, medium and small companies, respectively. In contrast, the results for these three groups using DEA have shown that CEOs are on average actually overpaid in monetary terms by 47.6% 55.3% and 49.9%. This implies that LRA favors CEOs in comparison with the DEA model. Therefore, the study concludes that the frequently used LRA model is probably a reason that contributes to excessive CEO compensation.