Compensation Controversies at Aig

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Linkage of Case to Chapter Material This case focuses on the controversial $165 million in retention bonuses paid to employees of the Financial Products unit of the American International Group (AIG), a behemoth insurance and financial services company. In early 2008, employees in the Financial Products unit were asked to remain with the company through the unit’s shutdown and, essentially, to work themselves out of a job. To entice talented employees to stay and work through the shut-down, a contractual retention bonus plan was instituted. When the bonuses were paid in early 2009, controversy and outrage arose given that AIG was the recipient of a substantial amount of United States government bailout money under its Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). Amid this controversy, Edward Liddy, AIG’s CEO, requested the bonus recipients to return half of the bonus amount. Some Financial Products employees decided to return their bonuses; others opted to keep their bonuses. Many affected Financial Products employees felt betrayed by AIG because of repeated reassurances of the bonus payments under contractual obligations. Subsequently, Kenneth Feinberg, the federal government’s overseer of executive compensation at AIG and other major TARP recipients, played a key role in addressing the controversy over the AIG retention bonuses. He made several controversial decisions with respect to compensating AIG’s executives. The case is related to multiple motivational concepts. Internal needs reflect the reasons for which the employees chose to remain employed with AIG during the process of winding down the Financial Products business. External incentives reflect the retention bonus payments. In addition, needs theories of motivation can be invoked to provide perspective on what seem to be important motivational factors for the Financial Products employees. Equity

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