Open Access

Management pay-performance sensitivity, internal cash flow and investment behavior: A test of the free cach flow theory and asymmetric information theory

Frontiers of Business Research in ChinaSelected Publications from Chinese Universities20093:20

Published: 8 August 2009


The relationship between investment and financing, the two basic components of corporate finance, is of significant interest to researchers and practitioners alike. The free cash flow hypothesis and asymmetric information hypothesis are two important theories to explain the relationship between investment expenditure and cash flow. In this paper, we examine how consistency between the interests of management and shareholders influences investment-cash flow sensitivity, and how the nature of the controlling shareholder influences this relationship, so as to analyze how much the free cash flow hypothesis and asymmetric information hypothesis can explain the practice of investment and financing in China. We use pay-performance sensitivity as a proxy for the degree of consistency between shareholders and management interests. We find that investment-cash flow sensitivity is affected not only by financial constraints that caused by asymmetric information, but also by the shareholder-manager agency problem. It is found that the asymmetric information theory has more explanatory power than the shareholder-manager agency theory. In addition, the relationship between investment-cash flow sensitivity and pay-performance sensitivity is affected by the nature of controlling shareholders. Specifically, in the state-owned enterprises, the investment-cash flow sensitivity is mainly ascribed to information asymmetry problems, but in the non-state-owned enterprises, the investment-cash flow sensitivity mainly results from free cash flow.


pay-performance sensitivityinvestment-cash flowfree cash flowasymmetric information