“A Qualitative Analysis of the Media Representation of CEO pay in the UK in the wake of the 'Shareholder Spring'”.
[Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)]
This dissertation investigates the topic of executive remuneration and its portrayal in the media in the wake of the “shareholder spring.” It is a UK based qualitative analysis which uses NVivo 10 software to conduct a content analysis across three different newspaper publication websites, for 12 events over a two year period.
The events were corroborated in The Sun, The Guardian and The Financial Times to cover the same incidents, with the aim of filling a qualitative gap in Core et al's (2008) article “The Power of The Pen and Executive Compensation,” reflecting the British media landscape rather than US.
The four research areas that were considered regard: the tone of the article, the composition of chief executive pay in the article, the reference to pay and performance sensitivities and theoretical application of the three perspectives on executive remuneration; the managerial power perspective, the optimal contracting perspective and the government intervention perspective (Murphy 2012).
The assumptions regarding the total number of pay components (2a), the breadth of components (2b), and the total number of theoretical perspectives (4a) held. The assumptions regarding negative tone (1a), positive tone (1b), the total number of performance indicators (3a), the total number of pay and performance sensitivities (3b) and popularity of theoretical perspectives were partially held. The possibility that these did not hold may have been due to the inconsistency in article length that was discovered as a result of the content analysis.
The presumed gap between The Sun, The Guardian and The Financial Times, is not as big as first thought in terms of theoretical application (4b), but each newspaper publications does appear to conform to their reputations in the UK media landscape. The dissertation highlights an adverse stance to chief executive pay in general from the media, with a populist theme emerging in opposition to CEO pay on the basis of disparities in income and wages.
Overall, the results show how the government intervention perspective, propagated by Murphy (2012), has played a more predominant role of late due to the “shareholder spring,” and instead of academia influencing the media, the reverse has occurred and the media has helped legitimise this perspective as a possible third viewpoint to be added to the existing debate on executive remuneration, established and propagated on the perspectives of managerial power and optimal contracting.
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