In Pay Without Performance: The Unfulfilled Promise of Executive Compensation, professors Lucian Bebchuk and Jesse Fried offer a devastating critique of the way public companies pay their top executives. Relying on data rather than rhetoric, Fried and Bebchuk describe a diseased system in which executives wield enormous influence over their pay, board members have little incentive to slow the gravy train, and everyone involved goes to great lengths to hide the numbers from shareholders.
Readers hungry for a blistering moral indictment will be disappointed. Bebchuk and Fried are agnostic on absolute levels of compensation. But those looking for a substantive deconstruction of the system -- and a few ideas to fix it -- could hardly do better.