Original Research

ESG performance measures for executive pay: Delphi inquiry strategy and experts’ opinion

Reon Matemane, Tankiso Moloi, Michael Adelowotan
Acta Commercii | Vol 22, No 1 | a1072 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v22i1.1072 | © 2022 Reon Matemane, Tankiso Moloi, Michael Adelowotan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 June 2022 | Published: 14 November 2022

About the author(s)

Reon Matemane, Department of Financial Management, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Tankiso Moloi, Department of Accountancy, College of Business and Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Michael Adelowotan, Department of Accountancy, College of Business and Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


Orientation: Rising levels of executive compensation amidst the widening inequality, unemployment, poverty and other socio-economic challenges have raised questions among policymakers, academics and practitioners alike on the best ways to resolve this conundrum.

Research purpose: The main objective of this study was to identify a composite mix of environmental, social and governance (ESG) indicators that can be used in executive compensation plans.

Motivation for the study: Whereas the importance of incorporating the ESG in executive compensation plans is well documented, it is not known which indicators are appropriate and can be used in the South African context.

Research design, approach and method: A sequential exploratory research design was used in this study. The ESG-based indicators were identified from the literature and then subjected to three rounds of surveys in a Delphi enquiry strategy.

Main findings: An eclectic mix of nonfinancial performance measures (NFPMs) based on the ESG philosophy were identified, confirmed and validated by a diverse team of international experts.

Practical/managerial implications: In order to curb rising executive compensation and to disincentivise short-termism associated with sole reliance on profits as the only yardstick for performance, NFPMs identified in this study should be integrated into the executive compensation designs.

Contribution/value-add: On an empirical front, the study proffers novel NFPMs for executive compensation plans that are predicated on ESG philosophy. The methodological contribution lies in the use of a Delphi inquiry strategy, which has never been used in the area of executive compensation.


Delphi; experts; Environmental, social and governance (ESG); nonfinancial; performance measures; executive compensation


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