Controllability of Risk and the Design of Incentive-Compensation Contracts

Christopher S. Armstrong, Stephen Glaeser and Sterling Huang


We examine how the ability to control firm exposure to risk affects the design of executive compensation contracts. To do so, we use the introduction of exchanged-traded weather derivatives, which significantly increased executives’ ability to control their firms’ exposure to weather risk, as a natural experiment. We find that executives for whom weather derivatives have the greatest impact on the ability to control firm exposure to weather risk experience relative declines in total compensation and equity incentives. The former finding is consistent with a reduction in the risk premium that executives receive for their firms’ exposure to weather risk. The latter finding suggests that risk and incentives are complements when executives can control their firms’ exposure to risk. Collectively, our results show that the executives’ ability to control their firms’ exposure to risk alters the nature of agency conflicts and influences the design of incentive-compensation contracts.

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February 19, 2020

Dear all students, staff and members of the CKGSB community,

As the public health emergency caused by COVID-19 is still ongoing, I hope you are all staying safe and healthy. The safety of our staff and students are our top priority at this point, which is why all staff members will work remotely for the time being. In addition, we will offer online learning to our students, in order to continue our curriculum offering, and provide a series of webinars for the wider community on relevant topics.

Fundamental to the core of Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business’ (CKGSB) vision is to cultivate transformative business leaders with a strong sense of social responsibility. To this extent, I’m extremely proud to see the CKGSB community coming together in recent weeks to provide support through donations big and small. Meanwhile, our professors are examining the economic and social impact of the virus and will continue to release data and analysis in the coming weeks.

We will continue to support relief efforts and work together with government agencies, private corporations and international organizations in a meaningful way. Our thoughts and wishes are with all of the people affected by the COVID-19.


Founding Dean
Professor of China Business and Globalization
Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business