Working Paper No. 922

Employee Compensation in Entrepreneurial Companies

Published: August 13, 2012Pages: 45Keywords: Venture capital; Entrepreneurship; Compensation contractsJEL-codes: G24; L26; J31
Published version

Employee Compensation in Entrepreneurial Companies Ola Bengtsson and John R. M. Hand


Despite the central role played by human capital in entrepreneurship, little is known about how employees in entrepreneurial firms are compensated and incentivized. We address this gap in the literature by studying 18,935 non-CEO compensation contracts across 1,809 privately-held venture-backed companies. Our key finding is that employee compensation varies with the degree to which VCs versus founders control the business. We show that relative to founder-controlled firms, VC-controlled firms pay their hired-on (i.e., non-founder) employees higher cash salaries, provide stronger cash and equity incentives, and have more formal pay policies in place. We also observe that founder employees earn less cash pay and face weaker cash incentives than do hired-on employees, but have stronger equity incentives. We propose that the compensation differences we identify arise because the preferences and capabilities of controlling shareholders significantly influence the quality of the human capital attracted and retained by the firm.

Elgar Companion to

Social Capital and Health

Martin Ljunge okt 2018.jpg

Martin Ljunge, IFN, is the author of a chapter, "Trust promotes health: addressing reverse causality by studying children of immigrants", in a new book edited by Sherman Folland and Eric Nauenberg. The cutting edge of research is presented, covering the ever-expanding social capital field.

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