Published On: 27/10/2014|Categories: 2013–2017, Vol.35 (2014), Vol.35 (3)|


We applied a technique that has already been implemented in studies conducted in the field of bioethics to map people’s views regarding senior executive compensation. Fifty participants were presented with a number of concrete scenarios depicting the circumstances in which senior executives have received bonuses of variable amount, and they were asked to indicate the extent to which such bonuses may be considered as legitimate. The scenarios were created by varying four factors likely to impact of people’s views: (a) the extent to which the objectives fixed by the company have been attained or not, (b) the global, economic context in which the company has performed, (c) the availability of experienced senior executives in the sector considered, and (d) the amount of money that has been attributed, in terms of pay multiple. Three different personal positions were found. The most common position was that the legitimacy of bonuses mainly depends on the degree to which the company’s objectives have been attained. A small minority of people considered that bonuses were never legitimate, and another minority of people considered that they were never fully legitimate but that in at least one case – comparatively low amount of money and the surpassing of objectives, bonuses can be viewed as somewhat legitimate.

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