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Oh, my, imagine if companies start implementing internal talent mining in earnest and discover employees earning under 6 figures with the same skills as the CEO! ;-)

The old military axiom is that no corporal ever looked like a sergeant until they had three stripes on their sleeve. Merely possessing the required KSAs doesn't guarantee landing the job. With the top job comes full responsibility and usually the highest pay, justified or not.

CEO pay certainly has fallen in this recession as company revenues have dipped (witness http://www.erieri.com/index.cfm?FuseAction=NewsRoom.Dsp_Release&PressReleaseID=173), but excessive unreasonable compensation (http://www.pas1.com/ccq/sharepay.html) always exists amid the legitimate outliers. Bud Crystal still is doing penance for his role at TPF&C as described in his ancient book "In Search of Excess" with his annual "Most Overpayed Executive" reports for Bloomberg. The Waxman House Committee report on consultant conflicts of interest (http://www.erieri.com/PDF/Executive-Consultant-Conflicts.pdf) indicates that compensation mercenaries who function as testimonial suppliers exacerbate this trend.

Very interesting discussion. Recent research here in the UK by Income Data Services (an independent pay survey organisation) has shown a startling recovery in executive pay. (Here's a link to the news release - http://www.incomesdata.co.uk/news/press-releases/directorspay2010.pdf )

The findings seem to show the UK's biggest enterprises are ignoring our new Government's calls for restraint.

As you say it is often difficult to see any objective justification for the remuneration packages some executives are now enjoying.

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