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Perceptions of share price: long-term or short-term oriented?
Terhi Chakhovich
School of Economics, University of Turku, Turku, Finland and Aalto University, Espoo, Finland
Purpose – One stream of research has claimed share price to be long-term oriented, whereas, in contrast, another has found it to be short-term oriented. Through in-depth analysis, this study aims to reveal the grounds for each of these two claims by studying the time-related constructs of two parties: executives of a company and outsider commentators of that company. Design/methodology/approach – The study employs a social constructionist approach and incorporates the sociology of time in the analysis of case data focused on a publicly quoted company. Data drawn from outsider commentators provide additional focus. Findings – The executives studied in the publicly-quoted company construct share price as long-term oriented through three processes: linguistic, practice-oriented functional, and morality-related functional. However, these executives construct time through a present-based rationality, which means that effective and efficient present actions are assumed to form the basis for a successful future. Outsider commentators indicate two myopia-related risks in this rationality: current, present day pressing issues are not deliberated upon in a wider framework of long-term plans, and it is not possible to relinquish the present and focus only on the future, free from present concerns. The long-term orientation of share price is constructed by executives as instrumental through processes that are tied to the present-based rationality with its myopia-related risks. Research limitations/implications – By showing the long and short time orientations of share price, the paper provides grounds for a subsequent analysis of the origins of these orientations within the minds of actors. Practical implications – The study provides guidance on avoiding myopia when using share price-related compensation systems. Originality/value – The study contributes to the performance measurement and corporate governance literatures by analysing, for the first time, share price from the perspective of executives themselves. In addition, the views of outsider commentators are considered. Keywords Share prices, Time orientation, Myopia, Social construction, Time-based management, Perception Paper type Research paper

Perceptions of share price


1 Introduction Performance measurement in a publicly quoted company is often based on share price (Hall and Liebman, 1998; Core et al., 2002). The time orientation of share price has been presented in two conflicting ways in the literature. First, share price has been identified as long-term oriented due to it being formed based on all the future cash flows of a company (Fama, 1965; Brickley et al., 1985; Puffer and Weintrop, 1991). Second, and conversely, it has been claimed to be short-term oriented due to its links to myopia in financial markets, which emphasise quarterly earnings reporting and continuous ´ rioux, 2005; Rappaport, 2005). visibility (Espeland and Hirsch, 1990; Aglietta and Rebe The two contrasting time orientations of share price referred to above have usually been presented as based on the conceptualisations of outsiders, such as critical

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal Vol. 26 No. 1, 2013 pp. 133-155 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0951-3574 DOI 10.1108/09513571311285649

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researchers, not on the perceptions of corporate insiders, the executives themselves. Relying on social constructionism (Berger and Luckmann, 1966) and on the sociology of time (Emirbayer and Mische, 1998), this explorative paper analyses how executives and outsider commentators construct the time orientation within share price. The study contributes to the two literatures on the long and short time orientations of share price (Brickley et al., 1985; Espeland and Hirsch, 1990; Puffer and Weintrop, 1991; Rappaport, 2005) by providing significant groundwork for solving the paradox of whether share price is a long-term or short-term oriented measure. The paper answers the call by Brennan and Solomon (2008) for more interpretive research within corporate governance literature. This is the first study to combine an in-depth analysis of both the short and long time orientation of share price within one research paper. The paper focuses on one publicly quoted Finnish company, hereafter called Company A, which claims to be deeply committed to shareholder value and, consequently, uses share price extensively in its executive compensation schemes. The data were gathered via interviews with executives and board members, as well as from archives, from this company. In addition to the data gathered from within the company itself, the perceptions of outsiders, such as analysts, journalists, sociologically oriented researchers and representatives of three non-listed competitors were gathered and analysed. The empirical analysis shows that the publicly quoted company executives construct share price as long-term oriented through three processes: (1) linguistic; (2) practice-oriented functional; and (3) morality-related functional. Time is constructed by executives in the publicly quoted company predominantly through a so-called present-based rationality. According to this rationality, present efficient and effective actions are perceived to lead to future success. However, outsider commentators point to two sources of myopia within this rationality. First, the application of the rationality can result in a failure to acknowledge the future implications of present decisions. Second, the ability to imagine the future creatively by momentarily freeing oneself from present concerns is not encouraged. Outsiders contrast the present-based rationality with a future-based rationality that implies that the future is first planned and only after that are present actions initiated to execute those future plans. Outsiders claim that this future-based rationality is able to circumvent the two myopia-related risks. Share price both reflects and constitutes the present-based rationality and its associated risks. This in-depth research provides an explanation of the two conflicting views on the time orientation of share price previously offered. It also gives concrete solutions to addressing potential share price-related myopia. The research question examined in this paper is: In which ways is share price constructed as long-term oriented and in which ways as short-term oriented? The paper is structured as follows. In the following, the theoretical underpinnings are presented. The method employed is then described. Next the ways in which time and share-based compensation systems are constructed in Company A are presented. After that, the perspective on time held by outsider commentators is deliberated on and

contrasted with the constructs held by insiders. The paper ends with a discussion and conclusions.

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2 Theoretical underpinnings 2.1 Social constructionism The study relies on the assumption that reality is socially constructed (Berger and Luckmann, 1966; Searle, 1995; Stein, 2008). Social constructionism is defined as “displaying or analysing actual, historically situated, social interactions or causal routes that led to, or were involved in, the coming into being or establishing of some entity or fact” (Hacking, 2000, p. 48). Referencing Hacking (2000), the “entity” studied in the paper is the time orientation of share price, and the focus of analysis is thus the social construction of this time orientation. In line with this position, the study claims that the meanings of terms such as “share price” and “time orientation” emerge because of certain past events, social forces, and the types of ideology surrounding them; they are not fixed and inevitable (Hacking, 2000). Owing to its social constructionist approach, this study does not aim to expose an objective, fixed and all-encompassing reality (Berger and Luckmann, 1966). Rather, the study underlines the most distinct extremes in the data in order to develop theory. 2.2 The sociology of time Hassard (1990, p. ix) refers to the sociology of time as the exploration of “relationships between the concept of time and a number of contemporary sociological issues”. This exploration is achieved through “a sociologically informed analysis of time” (Hassard, 1999, p. 327), in other words, through the study of time-related issues with a sociological in-depth research approach and associated tools. In the study of the sociology of time, the cyclic-qualitative tradition (Hassard, 1990, 1999) acknowledges time as socially constructed with subjective meanings attached to it (Hassard, 1999) and with clear links between the present and the future (Jaques, 1982). As an example of this tradition, Zerubavel (1985) analyses how the length of the working week is a result of ethnocentric processes rather than an objective and universal phenomenon. The present study follows this tradition and draws on Emirbayer and Mische (1998), who recognise that actors can simultaneously live in the past, the present and the future by altering their focus accordingly. These authors analytically divide agency into three elements: (1) iterational (the past); (2) practical-evaluative (the present); and (3) projective (the future) (Emirbayer and Mische, 1998). The present and the future are the focus in this study because they enable the interpretation and categorisation of the data gathered. For Emirbayer and Mische (1998), the present refers to the practical judgments of actors who continuously respond to emerging situations, such as pressing concerns in the financial markets. The future refers to the imaginative planning of change-related possibilities based on the hopes, fears and desires of actors.


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2.3 The social nature of performance measurement and compensation Accounting and performance measures both reflect and constitute the society surrounding them (Berger and Luckmann, 1966; Burchell et al., 1985; Macintosh et al., 2000). In the literature, accounting and performance measures have been shown to reflect overtones from the rest of society[1]. The ideology of shareholder value and the related conceptualisations held by shareholders have affected goodwill accounting (Ding et al., 2008). Mouck (2004) shows that certain accounting concepts do not have an objective and real basis for their existence: they serve selected functions, such as that of being indicators of (shareholder) wealth. Burchell et al. (1985) demonstrate that value added accounting has been given meanings that are derived from the environment surrounding it; meanings whose connection with the actual empirical referent is not very strong. Measurement and compensation systems can also constitute the very context in which they operate. Accounting can assist in the construction of actors as governable and manageable (Miller and O’Leary, 1987), the construction of a company as a financial rather than as a productive entity (Espeland and Hirsch, 1990), and the construction of a “commercial” view of the operations of a company (Ezzamel et al., 2004). 2.4 The time orientation within share price The ideology of shareholder value has diffused extensively in recent years (Lazonick and O’Sullivan, 2000; Ding et al., 2008). Within this ideology, the creation of value for shareholders is perceived to be the foremost objective of management and is assumed to be for the greater good of society. This idea dates back to the “invisible hand” described by Adam Smith, which is claimed to guide actors to an equilibrium where all stakeholders benefit (Smith, 1776; Friedman, 1970; Jensen, 2001). However, the ideology has recently been extensively criticised because of its propensity to induce ´ rioux, myopia (Lazonick and O’Sullivan, 2000; Jensen et al., 2004; Aglietta and Rebe 2005; Ezzamel et al., 2008). Myopia, or short time orientation, can be defined as a focus on business matters that increase current period performance while potentially jeopardising the long-term effectiveness of a company (Van der Stede, 2000). Myopia has been linked to the financial markets in a multitude of ways (Graham et al., 2005; Rappaport, 2005). Jensen et al. (2004) warn that when company equity becomes overvalued compared to the underlying real value of the company, executives perceive that they have to hide this real value in order to protect their level of compensation and careers. The measures that hide this real value tend to destroy any remaining real value, resulting in short-sighted share price maximisation (Jensen et al., 2004). Graham et al. (2005) indicate that company executives sacrifice real long-term value in order to show smooth earnings that reach the forecasts of financial analysts. Moreover, Lazonick and O’Sullivan (2000) claim that the financially oriented “downsize and distribute” ideology is unsustainable in the long run, resulting in the destruction of value. Share price is a popular basis for executive compensation in publicly quoted shareholder value oriented companies (Hall and Liebman, 1998; Core et al., 2002). In the literature, share price has been perceived in two conflicting ways. It has been seen for several decades as a forward-looking measure capable of incorporating all available information about the future of a company (Fama, 1965; Fisher, 1965; Brickley et al.,

1985; Puffer and Weintrop, 1991). In other words, share price and company value are perceived as the end results of a calculation wherein all future cash flows of a company are discounted to the present (Brealey and Myers, 2003). The efficient market hypothesis, according to which share prices reflect all available present and future information, supports this view (Fama, 1965). Share price has also been claimed to be tied to performance measurement schemes that account for consistent performance over the long-term (Brickley et al., 1985; Puffer and Weintrop, 1991). These schemes are typically organised so that executives are given shares that they have to retain for an extended period of time, or are given shares or cash after share price performance has been favourable for an extended period of time, or both. On the other hand, share price has been perceived as a symbol of a value system that reinforces a short-term oriented financial model of the firm (Espeland and Hirsch, 1990). In this model, the firm is assumed to consist of a bundle of assets that have to be put to good use in such a way that financial markets appreciate this use and share price is raised: An industrial logic whereby new long-term value is created is left in the background. Rappaport (2005) claims that share price does not encourage long-term thinking if executives generally believe that share price is based on short-term oriented information disseminated by financial analysts. 3. Method The focus of the investigation is a single publicly quoted case company operating in the financial services industry, and termed Company A. The paper relies on empirical evidence gathered from two sources: semi-structured interviews and archival data. A list of interviewees and archival data sources is provided in Appendix 1 (Table AI). The study follows the lead taken by Ahrens and Dent (1998, p. 2) and Vaivio (2008, p. 74) in focusing on contradictions and tensions in the data. This has been achieved by analysing extreme cases, so-called “outliers” that provide the greatest possible contrasts (Ferreira and Merchant, 1992, p. 14). For that reason, executives in a company with an extreme focus on shareholder value were chosen. Board members were chosen to complement the data as they possess much knowledge about the focal company and are the ones who have approved share-based compensation. Journalists were selected as participants because they most closely represent the general public’s view on myopia. According to Goffman (1986, p. 14), public views about the world precede any stories printed in the press, determining which stories journalists select as interesting and how those selected are told. Analysts were selected because they monitor the business of Company A and can thus be assumed to possess informed opinions. Executives in competing firms were chosen because they possess knowledge about Company A and were able to compare their own company with Company A, thereby shedding additional light on Company A. Since they represent non-listed companies, they also permitted maximum contrast with and critique of Company A (Ferreira and Merchant, 1992; Ahrens and Dent, 1998). Finally, sociology researchers were selected because they were able to provide outsider views from an angle different to that represented by the rest of the outsiders, having conducted an extensive amount of critical research on financial markets. Most of the interviews were conducted during 2007-2008, with two additional interviews in 2011. In total, 33 individuals (seven executives and two board members of Company A, two journalists, two analysts, three sociology researchers, and 17

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representatives of competitor firms) were interviewed. The interviews varied between 30 and 105 minutes in length, and all interviews were carried out by the researcher. The interviews were semi-structured to allow the respondents to talk freely and express themselves through their own meaning constructs (Rubin and Rubin, 1995). The interview themes are included in Appendix 2. With the exception of one telephone interview, the interviews were face-to-face meetings. A standard assurance of confidentiality was provided at the commencement of each interview (Gendron and ´ dard, 2006). With the participants’ permission, all interviews were audiotaped and Be fully transcribed. All executives interviewed were senior executives and had typically been with Company A since the beginning of the year 2000 or even longer. One senior executive who had left the company close to the time of the study was also interviewed. The remaining executives were eligible for the same share-based compensation systems except for the Group CEO (Chief Executive Officer), who held a considerable number of company shares. The board members were independent of Company A, and both had held prominent positions of trust in Finnish economic life for a number of years. The journalists interviewed represented two prominent Finnish magazines (one economic and one general interest magazine), while the analysts represented two separate investment banks. Both analysts almost exclusively focused on the financial services sector. All sociology researchers represented the same university, but in two different areas of study (organisational studies and communications). Two of the three researchers held doctoral degrees and one was a doctoral student. The representatives of the competitors had typically been employed in their respective companies for long periods of time. In order to corroborate the interview data and to widen the empirical sphere of the study, archival data were used (Yin, 2003; Vaivio, 2008). The archival data consist of annual reports as well as material relevant to ownership and executive performance measurement and compensation gathered from company web sites. Press coverage about Company A was also gathered to complement the views held by journalists. The study was initiated with a relatively broad objective that was later narrowed down as empirical evidence accumulated and directed the study. The initial, wider objective was to increase understanding about the constructs of time orientation, performance measures and the compensation schemes of executives. Attention was first directed to the specific processes of constructing share price as long-term oriented. Five processes emerged and were combined into three overall process types. In order to provide structure for these categories, existing literature was examined and the concepts of linguistics and functionality described by Searle (1995) proved suitable in this regard. Searle’s ideas are presented after the processes, because these processes emerged from the data and were only subsequently connected with Searle’s analysis. Attention was also directed towards time-related issues. It was noted that when talking about time orientation, respondents discussed different time periods and the way in which they connected these time periods together in such a way that they appeared to express a preference for a certain ordering of the time periods. This was surprising, because the interview questions had been formulated, based on the literature, in terms of the length of time periods, i.e. long-term and short-term, not in terms of any temporal order of time periods.

Moreover, it was noted that outsiders discussed myopia-related risks. The risks were placed into two categories. Further support and structure for these categories was found by analysing the paper by Emirbayer and Mische (1998), which revealed two concepts matching the empirical findings. Significantly, the Emirbayer and Mische (1998) article contains a total of 15 concepts at the same analysis level as the two that were selected. Therefore, the comprehensive set of concepts described by Emirbayer and Mische (1998) did not direct the findings that emerged from the empirical data. In order to underscore this, the two concepts selected are presented after the empirical findings. The study thus used a strategy of finding empirical patterns and subsequently placing these patterns into more abstract frameworks originating from philosophy (Searle, 1995) and sociology (Emirbayer and Mische, 1998). Many empirically observable patterns reflect similar underlying, abstract issues related to human or social nature and are generalisable across studies. If these empirical patterns are connected to their underlying characteristics, the connections between similar empirical patterns revealed in different studies can be discerned. The connection with the more abstract constructs also provides support with regard to the credibility of the findings. Features of Company A Company A is a publicly quoted company operating in the Finnish financial services industry, and it consists of a holding company whose executives are the principal focus of this study, as well as two operating divisions (accounting for about 61 and 39 per cent of company revenue). The studied executives functioned fully in the holding company, except for the Human Resources Manager, who held responsibilities both in the holding company and the larger division, and the CEOs of the divisions, who had responsibilities in their own divisions in addition to their powerful roles in the holding company. The return on equity of the company was above 20 per cent in the two years prior to the study. The operating revenue of the company at the time of the study was over e2.2 billion and it employed over 6,800 people. Appendix 3 (Table AII) provides a comparison of Company A and its competitors referred to later on in the study. Most of the shareholders of Company A were institutional investors, with 14 per cent ownership by the Finnish state and 2 per cent by the CEO. An additional relevant issue that will be referred to later on is that a large percentage of the executives held a finance-related educational degree. 4 Construction of long time orientation within share price by insiders 4.1 Time construct by insiders Company executives vehemently argued that they were not myopic. They believed that the publicly quoted status of the company made it long-term oriented. The financial markets set requirements that continuously drove company executives towards efficiency and effectiveness. They reasoned that without this focus, their actions would be less than optimal at present, resulting in less success in the long-term. The executives felt that “doing the right things right now” was of the utmost importance to their work. One executive referred to how his unit had, several years previously, resorted to a “quick-and-dirty” reporting-related solution, and that the unit was still using that solution. He claimed that he was relieved that they had not initiated

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a large integrated information systems project, instead of the “quick-and-dirty” solution, because he felt that such integrated projects usually cause a lot of problems and consume a considerable amount of money. Fast and appropriate reactions to the environment were seen as the key to the company’s success. Several respondents felt that they did not possess or even need “peace to plan”, opportunities to prepare or plan for the future. Respondents claimed that they perceived a pressing urgency because of quarterly reporting and the continuous need to respond to the requirements of the financial markets. The following quote illustrates the perceived lack of need for planning.
[In my own life and work] I do not plan a lot of what I do. [In my work] I have to have the capabilities for reacting. No such thing exists as a “five-year plan” in investing [in the financial markets], that belongs to some other [form of economy] than the market economy; you cannot plan investments in that way. Every day is new; there are always new situations (Executive, Company A).

Several executives expressed a strong dislike for visualising the future with abstract plans not connected with present concerns. They claimed that the preparation of plans was counterproductive in their operating environment as a concern for plans and their implementation would consume the time necessary to react to emergent opportunities. The idea about the importance of being effective and shrewd in the present in order to succeed in the future also found understanding within the board. For example, one board member acknowledged that the short-term forms a basis for the long-term, as the following quote indicates:
Sustainable long-term performance and success is based on the issue that in the short-term affairs develop in the right direction (Board member, Company A).

Several years previously, Company A had divested itself of the ownership of one of its major businesses but bought back full ownership of this business relatively quickly. In retrospect, the actions had appeared self-contradictory to outsiders. However, the executives felt that each of their actions had been implemented rationally in order to seize present opportunities. As indicated by executives, only recently, when the “apparently” self-contradictory actions proved to be highly profitable, had financial market participants and other outsiders understood that company strength rested in creating value by reacting fast to emerging opportunities. A board member also echoed the views of the executives by claiming that the contradictory actions had been reasonable and rational as they had been implemented in order to increase profits by taking advantage of opportunities open at the time. Company A had recently sold its ownership of one other major division. This sale was also rationalised with the measures of profit and value by the executives. Visions of the division as a continuing part of company operations had been cast aside when an opportunity arose. The sale had been publicly announced in November 2006, and no plans had been prepared by June 2007 (the time of the interview). The company had estimated that these plans would be announced only in 2008. Eventually, the plan proved simply to be the acquisition of the shares of another bank through the financial markets when an opportunity presented itself; the bank was undervalued due to the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. The respondents in Company A appeared to follow a present-based rationality, i.e. a way of thinking whereby it is assumed that as long as present concerns are managed in

the most effective and efficient way possible, a successful future will materialise almost automatically (Figure 1). Long-term plans are not, therefore, necessary for long-term success. 4.2 Compensation based on share price Within Company A, the share-based systems were termed “long-term incentive systems” and a “share-based incentive system”. Within the latest “long-term incentive system”, payments were made under the term performance-related bonus for 2008-2010. The executives were required to purchase company shares with 20 per cent of the bonus received. They were also required to hold the shares for a minimum of two years. The size of the bonus payment was determined based on so-called calculated bonus units. For example, relating to 2008, one bonus unit was calculated as the average price of a share during ten days in autumn 2008, minus a predetermined price at the beginning of 2007. Any payments would be made in full, partly, or not at all depending on the given thresholds of the margin of the larger division. In the “share-based incentive system” 50 per cent of the compensation was paid based on the share price and 50 per cent based on the margin of the major division and/or ROE (return on equity) of the whole company, again during the period 2008-2010. The payment was made in shares, and executives were required to hold at least 40 per cent of those shares for a minimum of two years. In practice, executives strongly associated both compensation plans with the share price. This was because of the historical connection between share price and the return measures in this company, and the labelling of a part of the plans as “long-term”. Executives typically did not make a distinction between the two types of plans, and therefore, within this study, they are analysed as a single plan. 4.3 Long time orientation constructed within share price by insiders The linguistic process. The executives in Company A constructed share price and systems related to it as inherently long-term due to the linguistic name attached to the systems: “long-term incentive systems”. The long-term orientation of share price was often termed “more important” than the short-term and contrasted with the annual bonus plans, termed “short-term oriented”. This terminology appeared familiar to the executives based on their finance-related education, in which share price had often been contrasted with the notion of annual earnings and termed more “long-term oriented”. The executives also constructed share price through the names attached to its technical features by referring to the terms “time to expiration/maturity” of the share-based compensation systems. As indicated earlier, the systems were built so that the monetary benefits were determined only after a certain time period and after this executives were required to hold company shares for years.
I think the best compensation system is that the incentives of executives are tied to share price. . . and then I think it is reasonable that, at least with a part – a large part – of that compensation, the executive is required to buy shares and keep them for a certain time period.

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Figure 1. The rationality promoted by the publicly quoted company executives, according to which fast and effective present actions are claimed to lead to future success

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I think that is the correct compensation system, because there you necessarily get a length of 4-5 years, and I think that is a reasonable executive time horizon. Ten years is too long because we do not know how the world will be then; a year or two is too short because then we are exposed to market disturbance and trade cycles (Executive, Company A).


Within discounted cash flow valuation models, and according to the efficient market hypothesis, company share price is technically formed as the sum of all the present and future information about the company (Fama, 1965; Fisher, 1965; Rappaport, 2005). Company executives appeared to be influenced by the wording used in the valuation models and the efficient market hypothesis that had been employed in their own finance-related education. Their emphasis on the terminology of “time to expiration/maturity” also reflects the valuation models. The practice-oriented functional processes. The practice-oriented functional processes indicated by the interviewees were those of commitment (also termed retention), motivation, and recruitment. They are termed such because within these processes the long time orientation within share price was assigned functions that executives considered valuable for the company’s day-to-day management, especially human resource management. Respondents felt that the share price assisted them in their commitment to the organisation. In addition to the issue of personal commitment, the executives raised this issue from the perspective of the company and therefore called it the retention of key executives. The respondents constructed executive commitment as the willingness of the executives to stay in a given position for a certain, extended period of time. Retention was perceived by executives as the capability of the company to retain its key executives for an extended time period. Executives often constructed commitment in terms of the money they expected if they stayed in their current position for a predetermined period of time. Executives felt that they had to commit in the present in order to receive compensation in the future; a way of thinking that is in line with the present-based rationality. One executive talked about this in quite precise time-related terms:
Currently. . . we receive [Company A] shares, that we have to retain . . . there is a clear financial commitment there. For example, I know that the first tranche of the share-based incentive plan has been, with the current share price development, clearly in the money. [. . .] I am already automatically retained here, due to that first tranche, until December next year. Financially, it would be a costly decision if I left [before that December] (Executive, Company A).

Executives also constructed commitment as originating from the values and culture of the company. They wanted to commit to the company, not merely because of the money they were expecting from the compensation systems, but because the overall culture of the company emphasised the long-term, share price and shareholder value. Executives also constructed the long time orientation within the share price through motivation – they perceived that share price as a measure motivates them for the long-term. When a large part of their compensation only arrives after years, they reasoned that they were motivated to make sacrifices in the short-term to achieve the substantial benefits that would accrue later on. As one executive noted, the compensation plan does motivate for the time period for which it has been constructed. Another executive explained that share price motivated the executives to work hard in

the present in order to achieve successful performance in the future; an idea that notably resonates with the present-based rationality. However, respondents consistently stated that commitment and retention were much more important consequences of share price-related compensation than motivation. Executives claimed that it was demanding to be motivated towards achievements in a very distant future because, due to the rapidly changing operating environment, it was difficult to picture events so far in the future. In contrast, the amount of money expected after a certain time horizon was a much clearer factor in increasing commitment. The final practice-oriented functional process described by respondents is that of recruitment. They perceived two functions for the long time orientation within the share price in relation to recruitment: first, that of recruiting the most talented employees, which was in the long-term interests of the company, and second, that of recruiting employees capable of thinking about the long-term along the lines of the prevailing rationality of company executives. Respondents perceived that share price as a compensation base enabled the successful recruitment of new executive talent, and that it therefore served as a medium for long-term success. Prospective employees who were attracted by share-based compensation were perceived as highly qualified and, as such, had options regarding their employment and could be persuaded to work for the company only if share-based compensation was offered. An executive talked about this:
I see a world where the real top talent is becoming more and more aware of its value and is getting ever more sophisticated in trying to get part of the value it creates. And I think many of the especially large companies are facing the challenge of trying to adapt to these new circumstances (Executive, Company A).

Perceptions of share price


The long time orientation inherent in the share price was also constructed as the ability to recruit employees with the capability to take actions that, although perhaps difficult in the short-term, would be seen as superior in the future. Several executives emphasised the courage of being prepared to make difficult and hard decisions now, knowing that they should lead to success in the future. The executives claimed that outsiders, such as analysts, were not and could not be allowed to be a factor in their own decision-making processes. Respondents felt that executives had to be able to make decisions against the possible short-term oriented recommendations of these outsiders. Executives desired to recruit talented executives with opinions such as those described above. Following the present-based rationality, executives felt that they had to implement successful recruitment policies in the present, in order for the company to succeed in the future. The use of the functional processes described above does not require extensive planning. The executives had, for the most part, not participated in the planning of the formal compensation or recruitment systems, but the processes represent the constructs the executives had created out of the pre-existing systems in use. The morality-related functional process. The executives also highly appreciated another type of functional process inherent in share price. This process was not immediately helpful to human resource management or any other sphere of company management. Rather, the process was often described in ambiguous, morality-related terms. It is therefore termed here the morality-related functional process. This process is clearly tied to the strong moral commitment of the executives to shareholder value

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and is twofold. The time orientation was first constructed as the mechanism by which the interests of owners and executives were merged. Second, it was constructed as the long-term beneficial impacts of this merger for the economy and society. One executive termed the reliance on share price and the explicit consideration of the interests of the owners a moral imperative. Several executives emphasised the importance of long-term (shareholder) value creation. One executive felt that having a long-term share-based compensation system in place urged executives to see it as their moral obligation to raise the share price, as the following quote illustrates.
You can see very concretely, if you have a reasonably structured long-term incentive plan, it does [this]: People begin to follow the share price, it becomes very important for them, [they begin thinking that] you are not allowed to do things that decrease the [. . .] share price, and you have to do things that increase it (Executive, Company A).

Many executives claimed a commitment to an inner drive to work for the benefit of the economy and society, thereby imposing meaning to their work in this way. The long time orientation within the share price was constructed as contributing to the ability to perform for the moral benefit of society in the long-term. The interviewees acknowledged that it would be immoral and even criminal to aim at increasing value only in the short-term:
I put ethics and morality in first place, however, in such a way that I also get money. However, you cannot make choices so that money would override ethics and morality; I’ve seen it quite close in [another company where I worked earlier] (Executive, Company A).

4.4 Relationship between the processes and a more abstract discussion The processes presented above have been shown on the basis of how they appeared in the empirical data. However, a justification for this division at a much more abstract and less context-specific level also appears in Searle’s (1995) text, in which he accounts for social reality. Searle discusses the power of linguistics in constructing reality very generally. In order to be socially constructed, a phenomenon requires linguistic elements. Language contains symbolic devices like words, which represent something beyond themselves, and it is these devices that assist in the construction of certain facts. Searle also analyses functions at a very abstract level. According to Searle, the assignment of functions is an essential building block when creating social reality. Functions are not intrinsic to a physical phenomenon but are assigned by actors. These actors possess values through which these functions and their importance are socially constructed. 5. Construction of myopia within share price by outsiders This section commences by describing the arguments that outsiders present in order to show that Company A is myopic. The section then proceeds to explain how outsiders appear to perceive that time should normatively be constructed in order to avoid myopia. Subsequently, the section draws on empirical data in order to explore the myopia-related risks outsiders perceive in relying on the prevalent construct in Company A rather than on the construct they themselves advocate. Finally, the myopia-related risks are tied to a more abstract discussion.

5.1 Myopia-related arguments by outsiders Outsiders found multiple grounds for claims that Company A could be myopic. Journalists often referred to the difference between the time horizon of “a quarter of a century” common to non-listed companies and that of “a quarter of a year” typically associated with publicly quoted companies such as Company A. Journalists attributed this difference in time horizons to differences in ownership and financial market pressures. Moreover, press coverage about Company A typically referred to the surprisingly high operational efficiency and speed of operations of the company and the “investing game” played by its holding company. Furthermore, sociology researchers referred to how executives in publicly quoted companies tended to switch jobs faster than many of their own employees, and how the continuity of company identity was therefore under threat. Analysts considered executives in Company A to be myopic due to its contacts with the representatives of the financial markets and quarterly reporting. One of the analysts indicated that the company had reorganised itself several times during recent years, resulting in uncertainty among its employees. An analyst also perceived that the tendency of Company A to execute fast, and potentially self-contradictory, moves might be a manifestation of myopia. Next, the views held by competitors are presented. Competitor Alpha is a cooperative (see Appendix 3). An Alpha executive claimed that pressures from analysts and quarterly reporting requirements might induce myopia in publicly quoted companies. Another representative of Alpha raised the issue that the operations of Company A appeared to be continuously for sale, and that it seemed that several short-term measures had been taken in order to have parts of the company appear good candidates for an outside offer. Moreover, one representative of Alpha recollected difficulties among Company A employees in serving their customers as company executives switched their interests between customer groups unexpectedly and myopically:
Yes, we have received an advantage in that sometimes the CEO [of Company A] says that “we [Company A] are not at all interested in corporate customers”, and in the following year he says that “we [Company A] are now interested in [corporate customers]”. But then he says that “we [Company A] are interested in savings, and corporate customers do not interest us”. Well, of course it helps us [Competitor Alpha]. [. . .] In Company A they did this, they changed their strategy many times. And corporate customers responded to it (Executive, Competitor Alpha).

Perceptions of share price


Competitor Beta is a coalition of independent savings banks. Like the Alpha representative, several Beta representatives felt that parts of Company A were always for sale, and they contrasted this with their own coalition for which this is never the case. A representative of Beta recalled a similar phenomenon to that referred to by the Alpha representative. In this case, the executives of Company A had made bold and arrogant statements about certain customer groups, resulting in some of the members of those groups switching to Beta. Competitor Gamma is a mutual company; it is thus fully owned by its customers. In a manner similar to the representatives of Alpha and Beta, representatives of Gamma also stressed that Company A was myopic because any of its parts could be on offer at any time; for example, one respondent referred to its “harvesting” mentality.

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5.2 Normative claims by outsiders about time constructs Outsiders often formulated myopia with reference to the lack of concern about the future and, associated with it, the lack of long-term planning. More specifically, multiple respondents at Company A’s competitors referred to the rationality and importance of first making far-reaching and visionary plans, and only later designing current actions to implement the plans. A respondent at Alpha presented the targets of his own unit; the strategic goals were set far into the future – the target time was not even specified – and more short-term targets were derived from these goals. Another respondent at Alpha emphasised the importance of long-term direction and general targets that were to be achieved in the long-term. He then claimed that short-term target levels were determined on the basis of the long-term general targets and the overall business idea at Alpha. Several respondents at Beta said that they focused on their future plans first and then derived the short-term targets and optimal present actions from these plans. In particular, one respondent at Beta indicated that he first made a long-term strategic choice, and then linked this choice to present actions. Another respondent at Beta claimed that long-term targets should be transformed into concrete actions in the short-term. Respondents at Gamma described their strategic goals as extending three years into the future. Their annual targets were then relatively strictly derived from these goals. A Gamma representative claimed that because their company’s ownership was always consistent, they could make long-term plans. The future of the ownership of Company A was perceived by him as constantly unclear, making the personnel there worry about the future.
For us, it is easier to plan for the future because [. . .] ownership is so clear. No such changes [as occur in Company A] can occur within our ownership, and it enables us to be far-sighted (Board member, Competitor Gamma).

The outsiders thus emphasised the future, an extended time horizon and plans. These interviewees expressed a favourable attitude towards the notion “peace to plan”. It was normatively claimed that future plans should first be made thoroughly and carefully “in peace” and they should then be transformed into wise action in the present (Figure 2). Such thinking represents a future-based rationality in which the future forms the first focus and the present is derived from the future. 5.3 Outsider perceptions of risks in the time construct by Company A executives Outsiders felt that there are two vital components in the future-based rationality that are not present in the present-based rationality favoured by Company A executives. First, the future-based rationality assumes that the future is first planned and only then are present actions implemented. This ensures that present actions are always set in a wider framework, guaranteeing that their future implications have also been analysed. Figure 2. This was often discussed by talking about continuity and sustainability. One of the The rationality promoted sociology researchers felt that continuity was jeopardized if executives were already
by critics of a publicly quoted company, according to whom future plans should be the basis for actions in the present

thinking about their next career move while managing their present company. Other researchers pointed out that focusing on share price led to executives concentrating too much on the present moment, especially as the daily movements of the share price were followed intensely. With regard to sustainability, a representative of Beta claimed that publicly quoted companies in general, and Company A in particular, tended to rely on one-sided marketing and other campaigns.
[Publicly quoted companies] go forward with only one type of campaign, until they have reached their target or notice that this is not a good way of doing things, or not topical any more, and then they invent something else. We [Competitor Beta] aim to achieve sustainability. For example, if you have certain price-related campaigns, [those campaigns] gather customers who make their decisions based on price. And when that campaign has been implemented, those customer relations slowly dissolve. And then those customer relations develop again due to some other offer, in another financial institution. And I think that that is myopic, because in the short-term the campaign has perhaps generated a certain amount of customers and volume, but in the long-term maybe it does not implement the original idea. On the contrary, we try to derive sustainability from our customer relationships; from qualitative factors and trust rather than on the basis of one factor only, such as price or some technical feature in a given product (Bank managing director, Competitor Beta).

Perceptions of share price


Second, it appears that the future-based rationality requires a “leap into the unknown”. This refers to the possibility of freeing oneself from the chains of the present and using imagination to envisage the future. One of the journalists discussed how short-term, financial market-related pressures can encourage fast innovation gimmickry at the expense of long-term, structural innovations with the potential for in-depth changes in the focal company’s business. One of the sociology researchers explained how executives in publicly quoted companies tend to avoid making truly original choices for fear of being judged by financial markets. A researcher also noted how “the long-term” as a very long period – such as 20 years – is almost never ever discussed in these companies, although investments in countries with institutional environments that are different from those of the home country would demand such a long horizon to truly succeed. In addition, researchers pointed out that large and powerful publicly quoted companies could, in principle, have participated in creating a better future for humankind by developing issues such as global equality and the market economy, but that the focus on share price directs their attention away from these important issues. Finally, one representative of Competitor Alpha describes the approach he has taken on freeing himself from the present, concerning a unit of Alpha:
I began this work in 1998, and in 1999 our market share. . . was [x] per cent. And then we set the target that we would increase it by half a percentage point annually in the near future, but then, in 1999,. . . we also set a strategic goal of [three times x] per cent. You can guess that when I said this to the personnel and others, that now it is [x] per cent... but over there, in the distant future, the goal is [three times x] per cent, they said that we cannot go there, it’s impossible. Of course, the development after that has been such that, well, every year we have increased our market share, sometimes less, sometimes more, and now we are at [2.7 times x] per cent, and for a long time nobody has questioned [that three times x goal], there has only been talk about what would be the speed with which it would be reached (Executive, Competitor Alpha).

The “leap into the unknown” temporally precedes the first component. In order to gain most from future-based rationality, this courageous “leap” should first be made by

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identifying visions and plans disconnected from the present situation, and present actions should then be formulated according to these plans. It is notable that the first type of commentary underlines the need to connect the present to the future, while the second stresses the need to isolate the present and the future from each other. A comparison of Figures 1 and 2 shows that each depicts a way of ordering two time periods, the present and the future, in opposite ways. As the representatives of Company A do not function according to the future-based rationality, but according to an opposing rationality, outsiders were inclined to view the company as myopic. 5.4 Relationships between the myopia-related risks and a more abstract discussion Within the internal structure of the practical-evaluative element related to the present, Emirbayer and Mische (1998) include the abstract notion of “deliberation”, which involves considering present choices against the wider framework of the future. The first potential source of myopia in Company A relates to the lack of deliberation. Outsiders referred to this issue when they discussed the need for connecting the future and the present through plans. Detailed planning is not highly appreciated by executives in Company A. In executives’ minds, there may not even be a clear wider framework to which present concerns could be related. Executives feel that if they tie their day-to-day concerns to share price, an “automatically” long-term oriented measure, these concerns are automatically set into a wider future-related framework. Similarly, executives feel able to separate mundane tasks from tasks considered important for the future by reference to the share price reaction to the tasks – mundane tasks are those to which the share price does not react, and important tasks are those to which it reacts. However, in light of recent evidence, it is unclear whether share price reflects the future or just investors’ past prejudices, mental states and emotions (Rappaport, 2005; Shiller, 2005). The present-based rationality does not ensure that the future implications of present actions have been considered. For example, the executives at Company A failed to accommodate the difficulties faced by their subordinates when executives at Company A quickly switched their focus (as stated by the representatives of competitors). Could these difficulties be in the long-term interests of the company? It is conceivable that executives were not aware of how such troubles could result in, for example, problems motivating staff. A second weakness within the present-based rationality, based on the critique by outsiders, is related to the abstract notion of “symbolic recomposition” as proposed by Emirbayer and Mische (1998). This notion refers to future-related imagination; the ability to release the present in order to consider in-depth the future without a direct link between the future and the present. This temporal imagination is missing from the present-based rationality, because it takes the present as its starting point. Planning provides the potential to achieve this temporal imagination. The “leap into the unknown” arguments made by those outside Company A relate to the risk of being unable to envisage the future as one is trapped in the present. Company A executives did not detach themselves from the present and use imagination to see the future. They considered the use of this temporal imagination a futile exercise and admitted to a lack of interest in long-term development plans. Executives were unable to forget the present when pondering the future. Or rather,

they forgot the future because share price was perceived by them as “automatically” long-term oriented. 6 Discussion and conclusions The study has resulted in a redefinition of the long and short time orientation of share price (Table I). Share price is defined as long-term from the executive perspective because: (1) it is termed so (linguistic), (2) it assists in practical management for the long-term benefit of a company (practice-oriented functional), and (3) it assists in the moral functioning of management for the long-term benefit of the society (morality-related functional). On the other hand, share price is defined as short-term oriented, because it is felt by outsiders to (1) inhibit connections between present actions and their future consequences (lack of deliberation), and to (2) discourage imaginative future-related considerations that are disconnected from the present (lack of imagination, i.e. symbolic recomposition as described by Emirbayer and Mische, 1998[2]). Accounting research has argued that measures and compensation systems can reflect features of wider society (Burchell et al., 1985; Macintosh et al., 2000). The present-based rationality in Company A is reflected in the long time orientation within share price as follows. The functional processes highlight that the long time orientation within share price is constructed as instrumental; as a means towards a certain end. By using share price in the present, executives can be committed and motivated towards the long-term, and high-quality executives can be recruited, leading to long-term benefits. Executives also feel that they morally function for the long-term benefit of society when they focus in the present on the importance of shareholders and share price.
Time orientation of SP Long-term orientation Long-term orientation Name of definition Description of definition Linguistic Practice-oriented functional SP is termed “long-term oriented” SP assists in the practical management of a company for the long-term benefit of that company Example

Perceptions of share price


Long-term orientation

Morality-related functional Lack of deliberation

Short-term orientation

Short-term orientation

Lack of imagination

SP-based compensation is termed “long-term” SP helps in the recruitment and retention of executive talent for the long-term benefit of the company SP helps the moral SP reminds that longfunctioning of term owner interests management for the long- should be the first moral term benefit of the society priority of executives SP does not encourage the The consequences of a given present choice, such consideration of connections between as a public present actions and their announcement, are not future consequences planned in advance The future is not planned SP discourages imaginative future plans imaginatively, as in that are made independent thinking “where will this of present concerns company be in ten years (independent of where the company is now)”

Table I. Definitions and examples of the different time orientations of share price (SP)

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Performance measures are not purely reflective instruments: they also constitute reality (Burchell et al., 1985; Macintosh et al., 2000). A performance measure of share price can assist in constituting the present-based rationality in the following way. The executives construct share price as “automatically” long-term oriented, which may relieve them of pressures to prepare future plans. Because share price attends to the future, it is not seen as vital for them to plan. They have, thus, “outsourced” their planning to analysts and other financial market participants. The linguistics by which share price is termed “long-term” create the illusion that share price is automatically future-related. This illusion then supports the present-based rationality with its myopia-related risks. The study thus contradicts earlier studies that assume share price to be unambiguously long-term oriented (Fisher, 1965; Brickley et al., 1985; Puffer and Weintrop, 1991). In the literature, the long-term character of share price has been based on the technical definition of share price as incorporating all future information (Fisher, 1965; Brealey and Myers, 2003), or on the technical way in which share price based performance measurement and compensation systems have been structured (Brickley et al., 1985; Puffer and Weintrop, 1991). In this study, the long-term character of share price is analysed as experienced by company executives. In this form, it is no longer a technical and clinical issue, but a part of the lived experiences of executives. Therefore, the consequences of this long-term character can be more effectively assessed and its faults corrected. By extending the more general and all-purpose definition of myopia developed by Van der Stede (2000), the present study has provided a more profound, context-specific understanding of myopia as it relates to share price, which allows for a more grounded assessment of this type of myopia. This study sheds further light on how share price is considered to be long-term oriented (Fisher, 1965; Brickley et al. 1985; Puffer and Weintrop, 1991). It shows how executives themselves experience the future-related technical features of share price valuation and share price-based compensation systems. The study demonstrates how these technical features have become everyday reality for executives, intensely influencing them. The long-term orientation of share price appears to exist powerfully in three different forms, as depicted in the study. Building on the more general and abstract assessments of the myopic characteristics of shareholder value and share price made by Espeland and Hirsch (1990), Rappaport (2005), and Ezzamel et al. (2008), this study presents the myopic characteristics in two precise ways. These two precise characteristics of myopia underlie the financial logic criticised by Espeland and Hirsch (1990), Lazonick and ´ rioux (2005), and the potential for the myopic O’Sullivan (2000), and Aglietta and Rebe reduction of real value suggested by Jensen et al. (2004). Company executives can destroy long-term value in the way shown by Graham et al. (2005), because they fall into the two myopia-related traps identified in the present study. Similarly, the characteristics of the information generated by analysts, as described by Rappaport (2005), can be myopic if this information encourages the two types of myopia-related risks shown in the study. The study therefore contributes by providing an explanation for myopia as uncovered in many earlier studies, a precise two-fold explanation that can serve to ameliorate the situation. The findings suggest that myopia-related risks can be addressed by requiring concrete plans from companies. It is recommended that a part of these plans be tied to

the present competitive situation and indicate the links between the present concerns of the publicly quoted company and its long-term plans. Further, it is suggested that another part of these plans, clearly distinguishable from the first, includes views about the future, views that are imagined separately from the present[3]. Corporate governance literature has acknowledged the importance of plans (Holland, 2003, 2004; Marston, 2008). For example, Holland (2004) recommends that companies offer narratives and stories in their disclosure. Moreover, Roberts et al. (2006) discuss the approach of using a narrative in relations with fund managers. This narrative-related approach would provide meaning for the separate parts of disclosure and introduce disclosure as a package rather than as a set of disconnected facts (Holland, 2004). However, for Holland (2004) plans are part of a narrative that extends from the history towards the present and into the future (in that order), and he emphasises the importance of credible connections, consistency, and cumulativeness between different parts of the narrative and between the narrative and the larger market story (Holland, 2004, pp. 46-7, 59). This implies a focus on plans that are integrally tied to the present. The idea of plans being imagined separately from the present, as revealed in the current study, has not been distinctly separated in previous studies. It could be claimed that information disclosure to outside parties can differ from the actual information which is processed (but perhaps not disclosed). However, as the notion of information inductance (Prakash and Rappaport, 1977) indicates, these two are interrelated. If companies are required to supply information in a narrative form about a coherent set of processes along a neatly positioned past– present– future continuum, their natural response is to organise their reporting practices along this continuum in order to conform to the reporting standards. For this reason, companies can abandon any focus on the future that is unrelated to the present[4]. Future studies could investigate the origins of the long and short time orientations within share price as constructed by actors. Such studies could shed further light on how the ideology of shareholder value and its associated economics- and positivist-related connotations (Friedman, 1970) have contributed to the construction of the long-term orientation within share price. Time rationalities also constitute a subject of further study; they could prove instrumental in several other subject areas as well. Finally, due to layoffs, restructurings, stress levels and other unfavourable consequences for individuals resulting from shareholder value maximisation, an interesting research question is whether the alignment of executive and owner interests leads, as the executives interviewed said, to the best result for society.
Notes 1. The author owes this concept to Ding et al. (2008) who refer to the term “the social nature of accounting”. 2. From this point onwards in the text, “symbolic recomposition” (Emirbayer and Mische, 1998) is replaced with “imagination” for clarity. 3. The plans can apply to both the possible holding company and the entire company. 4. It is worth noting that revealing highly imaginative future plans might not create credibility in present financial market conditions, because of the difficulty in connecting the present situation to these plans. Therefore, the need for these plans should first be communicated to the market participants before requiring them from companies.

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Vaivio, J. (2008), “Qualitative management accounting research: rationale, pitfalls and potential”, Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 64-86. Van der Stede, W.A. (2000), “The relationship between two consequences of budgetary controls: budgetary slack creation and managerial short-term orientation”, Accounting, Organizations and Society, Vol. 25 No. 6, pp. 609-22. Yin, R.K. (2003), Case Study Research: Design and Methods, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA. Zerubavel, E. (1985), The Seven Day Circle: History and Meaning of the Week, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. Appendix 1. Data sources
Company A Head of Investor Relations Group CFO Chief Investment Officer Human Resources Manager CEO of a division Group CEO Board member 1 Board member 2 Former CEO of a division Investment bank A, Analyst Investment bank B, Analyst Newspaper A, Journalist Newspaper B, Journalist University A, Researcher University A, Two researchers Alpha, VP of a major subsidiary Alpha, CEO Alpha, General Director Alpha, Board chairman Beta, Association Human Resources Manager Beta, Managing Director of bank 1 Beta, Managing Director of bank 2 Beta, Managing Director of bank 3 and Chairman of the Association board Beta, CEO of a subsidiary Beta, Managing Director of bank 4 Gamma, Controller Gamma, Director and Board member Gamma, Group CEO and Board chairman Gamma, Director and Board member Gamma, CEO of a business unit 1 Gamma, Director, Finance and IT services Gamma, CEO of a business unit 2

18.6.2007 18.6.2007 19.6.2007 10.8.2007 21.8.2007 29.8.2007 31.10.2007 25.2.2008 10.10.2008 1.8.2007 21.8.2007 10.1.2008 16.1.2008 7.6.2011 13.6.2011 30.11.2007 7.2.2008 8.4.2008 21.5.2008 21.1.2008 3.3.2008 13.3.2008 7.4.2008 16.5.2008 2.6.2008 18.10.2007 18.2.2008 19.2.2008 26.2.2008 4.3.2008 7.3.2008 16.4.2008

1 hour 30 min 1 hour 30 min 35 min 1 hour 1 hour 1 hour 1 hour 30 min 50 min 30 min 1 hour 1 hour 1 hour 40 min 1 hour 1 hour 1 hour 20 min 1 hour 45 min 53 min 1 hour 1 hour 15 min 1 hour 30 min 1 hour 40 min 52 min 45 min 1 hour 30 min 1 hour 1 hour 49 min 1 hour 5 min 1 hour 30 min 53 min 1 hour 1 hour

Table AI. Interviews

Notes: Archival data: Information booklets “The stock-based long-term incentive scheme for the top executives of Company A”, years 2004, 2005 and 2006; Internet site of Company A: “The compensation system of top executives”, representation of financials, annual reports; Articles in the financial press about Company A; Internet sites of competitors Alpha, Beta and Gamma: Annual reports, governance structure, representation of financials

Appendix 2. Interview outline This same outline was used for all interviews with the following exceptions. Journalists, analysts, researchers and board members were predominantly asked questions on their individual time frames, and on their views on the companies and executives studied (Company A and its competitors), not on the company/organisation in which they themselves currently worked. Introduction: targets, time frames, motives . Interviewee background (education, previous work) and present work. . Own work-related targets for different time periods, company targets for different time periods, and contradictions between personal and company targets. . Time frames (short-term and long-term) at work; in the company’s business; and in personal life, as well as satisfaction with these time frames and the importance of different time frames. . Personal motivation and its time frames. Systems Performance measurement and compensation systems (formal and informal): their content, time frame and implications. Stakeholders Stakeholders’ time frames and the time frames they support the interviewee/the company towards, for each stakeholder group listed below: . owners; . the board; . analysts; . competitors; . the media; and . other stakeholders (outside and inside the company). Conclusion The impact of company governance structure (particularly publicly quoted/non-listed status) and company environment on time frame and freedom at work. Appendix 3
Operating revenue Company A Competitor Alpha Competitor Beta Competitor Gamma Over e2.2 Over e2.2 Over e0.2 Over e2.8 billion billion billion billion Number of employees 6,800 12,400 1,200 3,000 Governance model Publicly quoted Cooperative Ownerless coalition Mutual

Perceptions of share price


Source: The figures were taken from the period of the study

Table AII. Company A and its competitors in the study

Corresponding author Terhi Chakhovich can be contacted at: