Money, Pfeffer says, is like an addictive substance. It raises the bar and leaves people always wanting more. Leaders who focus on money as a reward, Pfeffer says, "are going to have to give more and more of it to have any motivational effect. You're getting people on some kind of treadmill."
When asked what his research tells us about how to get outsized CEO pay under control, Pfeffer references an answer he's provided in the past — tax it at a higher rate, just like any other addictive substance.
While it's a comment he says he once made off the cuff, he doesn't appear to be joking. "What we've typically done with addictive substances like nicotine and gambling is tax them," he says. "Maybe this will fix some of the problem."