Fewer than 1% of company chief executives are poached from overseas, and most are promoted from within the company, showing that justifications for high pay in the UK are a "self-serving myth", according a new report.
A study of international moves in the world's top companies by the High Pay Centre "explodes" the notion that huge financial incentives are a must to keep talent in the UK.
Research among hundreds of leading international firms showed that only four chief executives out of 489 were poached while working for another company in a foreign country - just 0.8% of total appointments.
Four out of five chief executive appointments in the world's largest companies are internal promotions, said the report.
Director of the High Pay Centre, Deborah Hargreaves, said: "The global talent pool is, in fact, a drop in the ocean.
"These findings debunk the myth about internationally mobile chief executives flying around the world for new roles. This is one of the reasons for the sharp rises in executive pay in the past decade."
Chuka Umunna, shadow business secretary, said: "Excessive pay in the boardroom is bad for business, bad for our economy and bad for society.
"It imposes spiralling costs on business, perverse pay structures promote the wrong decision-making and pay inequality de-motivates other employees.
"Chief executives who have sought to hold our businesses to ransom with self-serving claims that international competition dictates they must be paid disproportionate wages, have contributed to excess.
"The High Pay Centre's very welcome report helps explode the myths surrounding executive pay that have been propagated."