Three essays on corporate governance in the hospitality industry

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Virginia Tech

The hospitality industry, with its dynamic business environment, has experienced unprecedented disruption and reconfiguration due to the emergence and success of sharing economy firms and online travel agencies. This turbulence calls for effective governance structures that can motivate managers to act in their shareholders' best interests. Despite the importance of effective corporate governance for firm performance and the topic receiving extensive scholarly attention in the management and finance literatures, there seem to be several gaps and mixed findings in the hospitality academic field.

To facilitate scholarly advancement, identify gaps in the current knowledge base, and provide direction for future research, in the first essay I undertake a systematic review of research on corporate governance in the hospitality literature. Based on 115 peer-reviewed articles published since 1961, I identify 21 themes explored by scholars, and find that topics related to institutional ownership, executive compensation determinants, board size, and merger and acquisition (MandA) outcomes are commonly examined, whereas topics related to family ownership, debt, and regulation/law are seldom explored. This review contributes to the literature by taking stock of what we know and offering a one-stop-shop for scholars to understand and extend corporate governance literature published in the hospitality field.

While evidence in the general business literature suggests that targets, instead of acquirers, are better off after the acquisition, limited studies in the hospitality industry have shown that both bidders and targets are better off after the merger, suggesting that MandAs are more successful in the hospitality industry than in other industries. In the second essay, I empirically examine whether this is indeed the case and what may explain the potential discrepancy in merger performance. Using a comparative study design and a comprehensive sample over 41 years, I find that overall acquirers gain from MandAs, and hospitality MandAs outperform non-hospitality MandAs. Bidders in the hospitality industry are more likely than non-hospitality bidders to acquire large, related targets, using an all-cash mode of payment. Except for industry relatedness, relative size, cash payment, and unlisted target are all positively related to merger performance. This study contributes to the literature by identifying several factors that can explain the differences in MandA performance between hospitality and non-hospitality firms.

Despite the fact that MandAs are frequently pursued as a growth strategy in the hospitality industry, their effect on chief executive officer (CEO) compensation has not been systematically examined. Considering that CEO compensation is an important topic related to firm performance, management, and social responsibility, in the third essay I examine the relationship between MandAs and CEO compensation in a sample of hospitality firms consisting of 1,514 firm-year observations over a period of 27 years. The regression analyses find that CEO compensation is significantly higher in the year after large acquisitions; well-governed firms identified via tenure, the Entrenchment-index, and board independence pay their CEOs higher post-acquisition than poorly-governed firms; the fraction of equity-based compensation is unrelated to MandA propensity; and the fraction of cash-based compensation is negatively related to MandA propensity. The additional analyses indicate that CEOs are rewarded for positive stock returns but not penalized for negative stock returns, and even more so in well-governed firms after acquisition. This study finds that MandAs and corporate governance are determinants of CEO compensation and the form of CEO compensation matters to acquisition decisions in hospitality firms. The findings are of importance for shareholders and the board of directors to design compensation plans that align the interests of managers and shareholders.

Mergers and Acquisitions, CEO Compensation, E-index, Announcement Effects, Systematic Literature Review, Comparative Study, CEO Tenure, Board Independence, Corporate Governance Mechanisms, Deal Characteristics, Compensation Structure