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Centre for Building Sustainable Value

Charlotte Antoons

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

Copycat behavior in CSR incentive contracts: The role of board interlocks



The choice of performance measures in incentive contracts is usually explained by economic determinants, largely ignoring the impact of social dynamics between boards. In this paper, we introduce imitation behavior in the research on incentive contract design and study the adoption of CSR performance measures in CEO incentive contracts. Using a sample of U.S. listed companies for the years 2006 to 2015, we show that firms introducing CSR performance measures in CEO compensation schemes tend to copy the CSR incentive contracts of their tied-to partners. Interestingly, our results indicate that incentive contract imitation happens not only through compensation committee interlocks, but also through CEO interlocking ties. Furthermore, our results demonstrate that imitation via compensation committee interlocks is efficient, as it is associated with an improvement in both financial and nonfinancial performance. In contrast, if imitation occurs through CEO interlocks, there is no improvement in performance while CEO incentive compensation increases.


Charlotte Antoons is a PhD candidate in Business Economics at KU Leuven, Belgium. She holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Business Engineering from KU Leuven, and spent semesters at Copenhagen Business School and Université de Montréal. Her research focuses on corporate governance, more specifically how the social dynamics between firms and among board members shape organizational outcomes. In particular, she is interested in how board decision-making can have a profound impact on firms’ social and environmental performance. She spent part of her PhD at the University of Melbourne, Australia as a visiting researcher.

Charlotte Antoons

Charlotte Antoons