Michael C. Jensen

11 Results


Putting Integrity into Finance: A Purely Positive Approach

Behavior that lacks integrity leads to value destruction. This paper analyzes some common beliefs, actions, and activities in finance that are inconsistent with being a person or a firm of integrity. Each of these beliefs leads to a system that lacks integrity, i.e., one that is not whole and complete and therefore creates unworkability and destroys value. Focusing on these phenomena from the integrity viewpoint, the authors argue, makes it possible for managers to focus on the value that can be created by putting the system back in integrity and correcting the non-value maximizing equilibrium that exists in capital markets. Overall, this paper summarizes a purely positive theory of integrity that has no normative elements whatsoever, and demonstrates how it applies to both individuals and organizations. In effect, integrity is a factor of production just like knowledge, technology, labor, and capital, but it is undistinguished—and its affect (by its presence or absence) is huge. Read More

CEO Bonus Plans: And How to Fix Them

Discussions about incentives for CEOs in the United States begin, and often end, with equity-based compensation. After all, stock options and (more recently) grants of restricted stock have comprised the bulk of CEO pay since the mid-1990s, and the changes in CEO wealth due to changes in company stock prices dwarf wealth changes from any other source. Too often overlooked in the discussion, however, is the role of annual and multiyear bonus plans—based on accounting or other non-equity-based performance measures—in rewarding and directing the activities of CEOs and other executives. In this paper, Kevin J. Murphy and Michael C. Jensen describe many of the problems associated with traditional executive bonus plans, and offer suggestions for how these plans can be vastly improved. The paper includes recommendations and guidelines for improving both the governance and design of executive bonus plans and, more broadly, executive compensation policies, processes, and practices. The paper is a draft of a chapter in Jensen, Murphy, and Wruck (2012), CEO Pay and What to Do About it: Restoring Integrity to both Executive Compensation and Capital-Market Relations, forthcoming from Harvard Business School Press. Read More

The Three Foundations of a Great Life, Great Leadership, and a Great Organization

This is the commencement speech that HBS professor Michael Jensen delivered to the 2011 graduates of the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. Drawing from his own experiences, he discusses the three foundations of a great personal life, great leadership, and a great organization. Those three foundations are integrity, authenticity, and being committed to something bigger than oneself. Read More

Creating Leaders: An Ontological Model

HBS professor emeritus Michael C. Jensen and coauthors have created an ontological approach to creating leaders in which leadership emerges through spontaneous and intuitive natural self-expression. Read More

Just Say No to Wall Street: Putting A Stop to the Earnings Game

Over the last decade, companies have struggled to meet analysts' expectations. Analysts have challenged the companies they covered to reach for unprecedented earnings growth, and executives have often acquiesced to analysts' increasingly unrealistic projections, adopting them as a basis for setting goals for their organizations. As Monitor Group cofounder Joseph Fuller and HBS professor emeritus Michael C. Jensen write, improving future relations between Main Street and Wall Street and putting an end to the destructive "earnings game" between analysts and executives will require a new approach to disclosure based on a few simple rules of engagement. (This article originally appeared in the Journal of Applied Corporate Finance in the Winter 2002 issue.) Read More

Introductory Reading For Being a Leader and The Effective Exercise of Leadership: An Ontological Model

Effective leadership does not come from mere knowledge about what successful leaders do; or from trying to emulate the characteristics or styles of noteworthy leaders; or from trying to remember and follow the steps, tips, or techniques from books or coaching on leadership. And it certainly does not come from merely being in a leadership position or in a position of authority or having decision rights. This paper, the sixth of six pre-course reading assignments for an experimental leadership course developed by HBS professor emeritus Michael C. Jensen and coauthors, accompanies a course specifically designed to provide actionable access to being a leader and the effective exercise of leadership as one's natural self-expression. Read More

Integrity: Without It Nothing Works

"An individual is whole and complete when their word is whole and complete, and their word is whole and complete when they honour their word," says HBS professor Michael C. Jensen in this interview that appeared in Rotman: The Magazine of the Rotman School of Management, Fall 2009. Jensen (and his coauthors, Werner Erhard and Steve Zaffron) define and discuss integrity ("a state or condition of being whole, complete, unbroken, unimpaired, sound, in perfect condition"); the workability that integrity creates for individuals, groups, organizations, and society; and its translation into organizational performance. He also discusses the costs of lacking integrity and the fallacy of using a cost/benefit analysis when deciding whether to honor your word. Read More

Specific Knowledge and Divisional Performance Measurement

Performance measurement is one of the critical factors that determine how individuals in an organization behave. It includes subjective as well as objective assessments of the performance of both individuals and subunits of an organization such as divisions or departments. Besides the choice of the performance measures themselves, performance evaluation involves the process of attaching value weights to the different measures to represent the importance of achievement on each dimension. This paper examines five common divisional performance measurement methods: cost centers, revenue centers, profit centers, investment centers, and expense centers. The authors furnish the outlines of a theory that attempts to explain when each of these five methods is likely to be the most efficient. Read More

Decision Rights: Who Gives the Green Light?

Four steps to ensure that the right decisions are made by the right people. HBS professor emeritus Michael C. Jensen explains in Harvard Management Update. Read More

Why Corporate Budgeting Needs To Be Fixed

Not to mince words, but corporate budgeting is a joke, argues HBS professor emeritus Michael C. Jensen in this Harvard Business Review excerpt. The problem isn't with the budget process—it's when budget targets are used to determine compensation. Read More

Value Maximization and Stakeholder Theory

Many managers, says HBS Professor Michael C. Jensen, are caught in a dilemma: between a desire to maximize the value of their companies and the demands of "stakeholder theory" to take into account the interests of all the stakeholders in a firm. The way out of the conflict, says Jensen, lies in a new way of measuring value. Read More