Two hypothesis relating responsibility, reward and performance were designed to test
the Davis and Moore functional theory of stratification. Large companies in the private
sector of the United States economy were selected as the source of empirical evidence
to test the theory. The data base was thought to be favorable to positive findings.
The responsibility variable was measured by company assets, reward was measured by
total compensation of the chief executive officer, and performance was indexed by
several measures of growth and profitability. Over 700 of the largest companies in
the United States were grouped into sixteen relatively homogenous business activity
types in order to control for (1) scarcities of qualified incumbents, (2) structural
differences between industries and (3) market conditions. The results provide limited
evidence of a relationship between magnitude of responsibility (functional importance)
and executive compensation (reward). No support was found for a hypothesized relationship
between company performance, however measured, and executive compensation. Taken
as a whole, the results do not confirm the functional theory.