Faculty & Research

Jonathan Bonham

Jonathan Bonham

Assistant Professor of Accounting

Jonathan Bonham studies the effect of accounting-based performance measurement on contract design and productivity. His research interests also include relative performance evaluation, the relationship between voluntary and mandatory disclosure, and the properties of accounting systems designed to meet the needs of various users.

Bonham earned a PhD in Accounting from Rice University as part of its accounting doctoral program’s inaugural graduating class. He also holds a Master of Accountancy, BS in Accounting, and BA in Economics from Brigham Young University. Bonham teaches financial accounting in Booth’s MBA program and the College.

Outside of research and teaching, Bonham enjoys exercise, swing dancing, and spending time with his wife and kids.


2020 - 2021 Course Schedule

Number Title Quarter
30600 Workshop in Accounting Research 2020  (Autumn)
30600 Workshop in Accounting Research 2021  (Winter)
30600 Workshop in Accounting Research 2021  (Spring)

New: Shaping Incentives through Measurement and Contracts
Date Posted: Nov  03, 2020
I develop an agency model in which performance measurement and compensation contracts are jointly used to shape incentives. When an agent has extensive control over firm value, there tend to be many optimal measures — each implying a unique optimal contract with a strikingly simple closed form — that efficiently motivate the same productive action. Because incentives can be embedded in the measure or the contract, any distortions in one are offset by adjusting the other, which can lead to highly nonlinear contracts. When the agent is risk neutral and has unlimited liability, there exist optimal measures that induce linear, convex, concave, bang-bang, piece-wise linear, S-shaped, or standard bonus contracts with floors, ceilings, and hurdles. When the agent has limited liability, standard bonus contracts written on understated measures tend to be jointly optimal. When the agent is risk averse, perfect measures are uniquely optimal whereas imperfect measures tend to distort firm value.

REVISION: Does It Pay to 'Be Like Mike'? Aspirational Peer Firms and Relative Performance Evaluation
Date Posted: Aug  09, 2018
We examine the manner and extent to which firms evaluate performance relative to aspirational peer firms. Guided by the predictions of an agency model, we find that CEO compensation increases in the correlation between own and aspirational peer firm performances. In addition, we define and test conditions where aggregate peer performance, which has been the primary focus of prior relative performance evaluation studies of competitive peers, is expected to have an association with CEO compensation. These conditions are supported by our empirical results. Finally, we document that our results are more pronounced when the firm-peer relationship is one-way and the peer firm is in a different industry and therefore is more aspirational.