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The percentage of S&P 500 firms using multiyear accounting-based performance (MAP) incentives for CEOs increased from 16.5% in 1996 to 43.3% in 2008. The use and design of MAP incentives depend on the signal quality of accounting versus stock performance, shareholder horizons, strategic imperatives, and board independence. After the technology bubble, option expensing, and the publicity of option backdating, firms increasingly use stock-based MAP plans to replace options, resulting in changes in pay structure, but not in pay level. While firms respond to the evolving contracting environment, they consider firm characteristics and shareholder preferences and do not blindly follow the trend.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in The Review of Financial Studies, volume 29, issue 6, in 2016 following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at

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