Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 8 > Issue 2

Safety in Numbers: Mainstream-Seeking Diffusion in Response to Executive Compensation Regulations

David Glick, Department of Political Science, Boston University, USA, dmglick@bu.edu
Suggested Citation
David Glick (2013), "Safety in Numbers: Mainstream-Seeking Diffusion in Response to Executive Compensation Regulations", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 8: No. 2, pp 95-125. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00012032

Publication Date: 09 Apr 2013
© 2013 D. Glick
Behavioral decision making,  Corporate governance,  Disclosure,  Executive compensation,  Financial reporting,  Industrial organization,  Political economy,  Regulation,  Public administration,  Bureaucracy,  Government,  Law,  Public policy


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In this article:
1 Background and Hypotheses 
2 CD&A Regulations and Empirical Opportunities 
3 Measuring Social Learning 
4 Substantive Compliance: Annual Performance Bonuses 
5 Additional Evidence: Stylistic Dimensions 
6 Tables, How to Start, and Disclosing Peers 
7 Conditional Variation within Reports 
8 Conclusion 


Research across subfields has explored questions of how and why one political actor's decisions are affected by others'. I investigate recent executive compensation disclosure regulations to make theoretical, substantive, and methodological contributions to the diffusion literature. I emphasize mainstream-seeking in the face of monitoring from regulators, interest groups, or voters. When there are high costs to sticking out, actors may look at others to identify the safe mainstream. I investigate the diffusion of practices amongst the regulated to extend the literature beyond policy creation to equally important implementation questions. I show that diffusion is an important factor affecting legal and policy impact. I do so by measuring social learning in new ways taking advantage of quasi-random assignment to social learning opportunities and independent decision making treatments. I show that social learning opportunities had a substantial negative effect on the quality of disclosures and led to less varied reports.