• Anne M Farrell
  • Susan D Krische
  • Karen L Sedatole

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Complementing proprietary archival data with an experiment, we examine employees' subjective valuations of their employee stock options and explore a stock option education program as a mechanism for influencing those valuations. We argue that the conflicting evidence on employee subjective valuations in prior studies can be attributed in part to knowledge differences. Our archival and experimental results show most employees value their options lower than the corresponding Black-Scholes cost. We find that a stock option education program that provides descriptive information about the Black-Scholes option pricing model and quantitative information about option values using that model increases not only employees' subjective valuations but also their self-reported loyalty and motivation. We complement our primary results with analyses of the cross-sectional determinants of subjective valuations, the differential effects on valuations of different components of the education program, and the heuristics used to formulate subjective valuations.