Academy of Accounting and Financial Studies Journal (Print ISSN: 1096-3685; Online ISSN: 1528-2635)


The Relationship between Executive Remuneration and Financial Performance in South African State-Owned Entities

Author(s): Ferina Marimuthu, Farai Kwenda

This study aimed to determine whether executive remuneration levels at poorly performing state-owned entities (SOE)s in South Africa are justified. The study was motivated by the weak economic growth, fiscal consolidation, increased debt levels and poor financial performance of these entities. Dynamic panel data models were employed and estimated using the Generalised Method of Moments (GMM) estimator. The data set comprised an unbalanced panel data of 33 commercial SOEs in South Africa that are listed under the Public Financial Management Act. The study found an inverse relationship between executive remuneration and financial performance. This is of concern as executive remuneration is high despite the SOEs’ declining performance. The misalignment between pay and performance undermines the core principles of the agency theory, resulting in poor performance. These findings provide empirical support for public and media perceptions that executive remuneration is excessive and unmerited when measured against SOEs’ performance. The findings will be of interest to observers of the economy, as they measure SOEs’ capacity to play a leading role in investment and in improving the efficiency of the economy. They could also inform decision making and policy development on SOEs.

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