1.1 Background to the Study
According to Jensen (2006), an agency relationship is a contract under which one or more persons (principal) engages another person (the agent) to perform some services on their behalf which involves delegating some decision-making authority to the agent. The cornerstone of agency theory is the assumption that the interests of principals and agent diverge. According to agency theory, the principal can limit divergence from his/her interest by establishing appropriate incentives for the agent, and by increasing monitoring costs designed to limit opportunistic action by the agent. Agency theory suggests that the firm can be viewed as a nexus of contracts (loosely defined) between the resource holders. Agency relationship arises whenever one or more individuals hire one or more individuals called agent to perform some services and then delegate decision making authorities to the agent. The primary agency relationships in business are those:
1. between stockholders and managers; and
2. between debt holders and stockholders.
These relationships are not necessarily harmonious; indeed, agency theory is concerned with agency conflict or conflict of interest between agent and principal and this has implication for among other things, corporate governance and business ethics. When agency theory occur, it also tends to give rise to agency costs, which are expenses incurred in order to sustain an effective agency relationship (e.g., offering management performance bonuses to encourage managers to act in the shareholder’s interests). Anderson and Macie (2006) said there will be continual diverging interests between the principal and the agent, unless an effort is made in order to align these interests. According to Ilaboya (2008), two of the contents of financial statements required by CAMA 2004 to be prepared by company directors, provided each for the interest of the shareholders (principal) and that of the management/employees.
The profit and loss account shows the level of profit of a firm and is in line with the shareholders’ profit maximization interest, while the value added statement which shows the wealth created and how it is distributed to all stakeholders, shows the portion of the wealth created that goes to the management/employee the (the agent) as well as treat the agent as a team member in the wealth creation process.
The primary focus of this study is on how the various reward systems especially the financial reward systems helps to resolve the conflicts between the principal and agent without compromising the accounting policies, standards (accounting standards) and regulations.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Divergence of interest between firm owners and the management cannot result to the achievement of the primary objectives and goals of any business organizations which is profit maximization. This is because the synergy required and the strategic fit will be lacking in a firm operating under conflicts of interests. Therefore, efforts must be made to reconcile the interests of the agent and his principal. So, while the principal would be fine with profit maximization, the agent would want the best possible reward system for his efforts.
1.3 Research Questions
In view of the above, one would want to find answers to the following questions;
1. What is the relationship between fixed compensation for the employee and firm’s profitability?
2. Is there any relationship between commissions based reward and firm’s profitability?
3. Is there any relationship between profit sharing in addiction to fixed compensation and firm’s profitability?
4. What is the relationship between year end performance bonus and firm’s profitability?
1.4 Objective of the Study
The objective of the study includes the following:
1. To find out if there is a relationship between fixed compensation for the employees and the firm’s profitability.
2. To find out if there is a relationship between commission based rewards and firm’s profitability.
3. To find out if there is a relationship between profit sharing in addition to fixed compensation and firm’s profitability.
4. To find out if there is a relationship between end of year performance bonus and firm’s profitability.
1.5 Statement of Hypothesis
The following research hypotheses will aid this study.
HO: There is no relationship between fixed compensation and firm’s profitability.
HI: There is a relationship between fixed compensation and firm’s profitability.
HO: There is no relationship between commission based reward and firm’s profitability.
HI: There is a relationship between commission based reward and firm’s profitability.
HO: There is no relationship between profit sharing in addition to fixed compensation and firm’s profitability.
HI: There is a relationship between profit sharing in addition to fixed compensation and firm’s profitability.
HO: There is no relationship between end of year performance bonus and firm’s performance.
HI: There is a relationship between end of year performance bonus and firm’s profitability.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The followings are the significance of the study.
1. To add to the current body of knowledge in the area of agency theory and accounting choice.
2. It is also hoped that this study will broaden the knowledge of the students of accounting.
3. Furthermore, this research work will assist resource owners by enlightening them on more of how to use various financial reward systems to motivate agents for better efforts leading to maximum performance and maximization of firm’s profit.
4. Finally, it is hoped that this research work will be a guide and research material to students who wish to carry out similar research in the future.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The scope of this study is limited to some selected non-financial firms listed on the floor of the Nigerian stock exchange.
This study is aimed at surveying the nature and effects of financial reward systems available for firms on the profitability of the firms and how it can be used to reduce the principal-agent problems in business organizations.
1.8 Limitations of the Study
The major limitation of this study is the short time frame used to execute this project in addition to the fact that the research work has to be done alongside the normal academic work. In addition to this, dearth of literature and the paucity of current and up to date research materials and information in my vicinity. Thus, the literature review was more of materials from journals, internet amongst others which are difficult to come by and even more difficult to analyse than textbooks. However, not all the information required could be found from available records.
1.9 Definition of Terms
1. The Agent: This refers to the management/employee who utilizes shareholders’ resources to generate expected profit.
2. The Principal: This refers to the shareholders/stockholders who own the business which the agent manages.
3. Operating Income: This is defined as profit after tax.
4. Fixed Compensation: This is defined as all financial rewards independent of performance which is fixed and constant every year irrespective of performance.
5. Commission: This is defined as a reward system based on level of performance or certain percentage of sales.
6. Profit Sharing: This is defined as the sharing of profit after tax with managements/employees.
7. Performance Bonus: This is defined as the monetary reward given to employees after improved performances.
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