Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting

, Volume 53, Issue 3, pp 845–869 | Cite as

Asymmetric sensitivity of executive bonus compensation to earnings and the effect of regulatory changes

  • Sung S. Kwon
  • Jennifer YinEmail author
  • Gordian A. Ndubizu
Original Research


In this paper we examine the sensitivity of CEO bonus to earnings in the cases of good news and bad news, and compare these relationships in the periods before and after SOX. We find an asymmetric sensitivity of bonus to earnings. We also find that the asymmetric sensitivity of bonus to earnings exists before SOX but disappears post SOX. Regulatory changes brought forth by SOX, including personal certifications of financial reporting by CEOs and CFOs, the claw back provision, annual evaluation of internal controls and disclosure of any material weakness, and increased level of conservatism in firms and their auditors after SOX, offer an alternative mechanism to monitor executives, potentially reducing the ex post settling up problem. The findings show that regulatory changes affect compensation contracts and have implications for regulators, managers, politicians, investors, and academics in their assessment of the equitable relationship between executive efforts and executive bonus compensation.


Executive compensation The Sarbanes–Oxley Act Ex post settling up Asymmetric sensitivity 

JEL Classification

J33 L2 M41 



We’d like to thank Steve Balsam, Patrice Gelinas, David Kwon, Gerry Lobo, Bharat Sarath, Inho Suk, and participants at the 2018 Annual Conference on Pacific Basin Finance, Economics, Accounting, and Management, 2015 Canadian Academic Accounting Association Annual Meeting, and 2012 American Accounting Association Annual Conference for their helpful comments.

Data Availability

Data used in this study are available from public sources identified in the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Administrative Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional StudiesYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.College of BusinessUniversity of Texas at San AntonioSan AntonioUSA
  3. 3.LeBow College of BusinessDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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