Making Sense of One Dollar CEO Salaries

Sophia J.W. Hamm, Michael J. Jung, Clare Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


We examine the determinants and outcomes of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) accepting a $1 salary, a compensation practice that occurs relatively frequently in high-profile firms and is debated by regulators, investors, and the media. Using a hand-collected sample of 93 CEOs from 91 firms between 1993 and 2011, we examine the triggers preceding the $1 salary decision, the factors associated with the decision, subsequent stock returns, and the outcomes for the CEOs. Our evidence is consistent with two explanations for the phenomenon: (i) it is a gesture of sacrifice by CEOs of firms in crisis, and (ii) it is a signal of better future performance by CEOs of growing firms. Our analyses highlight the two different circumstances and shed light on an interesting debate that has thus far been supported only by anecdotal evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)941-972
Number of pages32
JournalContemporary Accounting Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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