Determinants and effects of sustainable CEO compensation: a structured literature review of empirical evidence

  • Julija Winschel
  • Martin StawinogaEmail author


Sustainability-oriented CEO compensation is being widely discussed among policy makers, corporate practice, and academia. To date, management literature has yielded a growing body of empirical results on the determinants and effects of sustainable CEO compensation. Primarily, empirical studies analyze whether and to what extent sustainability-related issues determine the design of sustainable CEO compensation and how sustainability-oriented CEO compensation impacts corporate performance. However, the scattered nature of this research field has impeded an overarching empirical substantiation of the arguments in favor or against a sustainable CEO compensation. This structured literature review addresses this gap by analyzing 37 empirical studies on the key determinants and effects of sustainable CEO compensation. Using a multi-level analysis, we contribute to the discussion on sustainable CEO compensation by systematically identifying the central empirical insights and methodological and content-related foci within this research area. In summary, this review provides regulators, boards, management, investors, and other stakeholders with academic evidence on the determinants and effects of sustainability-oriented CEO compensation design. In addition to critically reflecting on the current state of research, we recommend paths for future research on sustainable CEO compensation.


CEO Sustainable CEO compensation Structured literature review Corporate governance Principal agent theory Stakeholder-agency theory Behavioral-agency theory 

JEL Classification

M12 M14 M52 Q56 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leuphana University of LüneburgLüneburgGermany
  2. 2.Ostwestfalen-Lippe University of Applied SciencesLemgoGermany

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