Purpose: This study locates one surprisingly powerful ally of neoliberalism enabling its proliferation in certain contexts, the discursive notion of the “long term” (LT). Earlier literature has shown that neoliberalism is concerned with investors' decision-making that has been claimed to be based on LT forecasts. This research explains this focus on the “long term.”
Design/methodology/approach: Share-based compensation (SBC) is investigated in one case company. The data consist of interviews with executives, board members, analysts and owners and also of archival data on the executives' performance measurement and compensation.
Findings: Much research equates “share-based compensation” with “long-term compensation,” and the present study terms this relation “the myth of long-term compensation.” It is demonstrated that multiple features of share-based plans, characteristics of the management in question and contextual factors of the company and its governance tie in with the time orientation of such compensation. Multiple contradictions and irregularities in the literature on SBC are analyzed, undermining the claim that SBC is invariably LT oriented. Relying on Barthes' work, the study illustrates how LT SBC is a myth contributing to the ideology of neoliberalism.
Research limitations/implications: It is proposed that the terms “share-based compensation” and “long term” be distinguished from each other for analytical and practical purposes. SBC, and thus neoliberalism, can sometimes be linked to the short term.
Originality/value: “Long term” is illustrated as a significant instrument for deploying ideologies.
- Long term
- Share-based compensation