The design of CEO incentives is particularly important for firms in financial distress. We compare the resolution of CEO incentive problems in distressed firms between the 1980s versus the 1990s, focusing on how changes in contractual provisions, as well as in the executive labor market, resulted in a shift to a new equilibrium. Our analyses provide evidence that the increased bargaining power of creditors, together with changes in the use of contractual provisions in the 1990s, enabled creditors to more effectively retain highly skilled CEOs with firm-specific knowledge and provide them with incentives to improve firm performance.

Data Availability: Data used in this study are available from public sources identified in the article.

JEL Classifications: G33; G34; M46.

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