Executive Pay and Legitimacy: Changing Discursive Battles Over the Morality of Excessive Manager Compensation [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 116 (3):459-477 (2013)
How is the (il)legitimacy of manager compensation constructed in social interaction? This study investigated discursive processes through which heavily contested executive pay schemes of the Finnish energy giant Fortum were constructed as (il)legitimate in public during 2005–2009. The critical discursive analysis of media texts identified five legitimation strategies through which politicians, journalists, and other social actors contested these schemes and, at the same time, constructed subject positions for managers, politicians, and citizens. The comparison of two debate periods surrounding the 2007–2008 financial crisis revealed significant differences in the discursive strategies and the corresponding moral struggles linked to legitimation of executive compensation. The analysis highlights a change in moral reasoning by social actors as they adapt their justifications to a changing social context. This study has important implications for our understanding of the ethical aspects and socio-political embeddedness of manager compensation. In particular, it adds to our knowledge of organizational legitimacy by showing how discursive strategies and the corresponding morality constructions used to (de)legitimate business activities can shift quickly as a result of a change in the social and political climate surrounding the legitimation struggle
Keywords Discourse  Executive compensation  Financial crisis  Legitimacy  Media  Moral reasoning
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10551-012-1485-1
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 38,097
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Modern Social Imaginaries.Charles Taylor - 2003 - Duke University Press.
The New Rhetoric: A Treatise on Argumentation.Chaïm Perelman - 1969 - Notre Dame, [Ind.]University of Notre Dame Press.

View all 19 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

How Much Compensation Can CEOs Permissibly Accept?Jeffrey Moriarty - 2009 - Business Ethics Quarterly 19 (2):235-250.
A Fair Wage? Capping Executive Compensation.Julian Friedland - 2010 - Journal of Business Ethics Education 7:129-139.
A Moral and Economic Defense of Executive Compensation.John Dobson - 2011 - Business and Professional Ethics Journal 30 (1-2):59-70.
A Model Capturing Ethics and Executive Compensation.Waymond Rodgers & Susana Gago - 2003 - Journal of Business Ethics 48 (2):189-202.
Executive Compensation and Earnings Persistence.Allan S. Ashley & Simon S. M. Yang - 2004 - Journal of Business Ethics 50 (4):369-382.
An Ethical Perspective on CEO Compensation.Mel Perel - 2003 - Journal of Business Ethics 48 (4):381-391.


Added to PP index

Total views
26 ( #261,903 of 2,313,437 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #269,139 of 2,313,437 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature