U.S. CEO Pay ‘Grotesque’

The discrepancy between American and international CEO compensation is due to greed, plain and simple.

That’s the findings in the latest issue of The Conference Board Review, which surveyed several leaders at global recruiting firms. The article attributes this behavior to a “pervasive form of greed engendered by the modern worship of high-flying American CEOs such as Jack Welch as all-conquering deities who deserve ever-bigger bags of gold as tributes.”

Richard Emerton, head of the CEO practice at Heidrick & Struggles in London, points out that “a perception for the last 10 years in Europe is that the level of remuneration for U.S. CEOs has been excessive.”

Meanwhile, Manfred Kets de Vries, who heads the Global Leadership Center at INSEAD in France, calls  U.S. CEO pay “a little bit grotesque.” Still, he acknowledges that many international CEOs secretly look upon American top executives with envy.

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And because CEOs are an international resource, their “market value” will be set by a global standard, with international firms fighting for talent.

Explains Michael Bekins, senior client partner at Korn/Ferry in Hong Kong, “We are now faced with having to recommend comp packages for C-level recruits that are higher than what Asian companies are used to.”

Elaine Rigoli has nearly 15 years of experience managing content and community for various B2B and consumer websites. Elaine has written thousands of business and technology articles and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and eWeek, among other publications.