Rocking the Boat: How Relative Performance Evaluation Affects Corporate Risk Taking


We argue that relative performance evaluation (RPE) contracts introduce a tournament among the focal firm and peer firms. We test whether a firm’s riskiness is altered by its CEO’s incentive to win the tournament. We find that a firm with an interim losing CEO takes more risk in the remainder of the tournament period than a firm with an interim winning CEO. This effect is stronger when the interim period is closer to the end of the evaluation period and when winning the competition is more important to the CEO. Together, our results suggest that a firm’s risk is determined by the incentive of its management to outperform peer firms in an RPE contract.