Understanding Firm Value and Corporate Governance
Benjamin E. Hermalin
University of California, Berkeley
August 3, 2010
An impressive volume of careful empirical studies finds evidence that the strength of firms' corporate governance tends to be positively correlated with their financial performance; that is, firms that score higher on some measure of governance tend to outperform those which score worse. These findings are a puzzle insofar as we expect those who decide how a firm is organized, including its corporate governance, to do so in a manner that maximizes firm value subject to the relevant constraints. If the governance we observe is constrained optimal, then why, in equilibrium, should any correlation - positive or negative - exist between it and firm performance? This paper offers an answer. In doing so, the paper also makes predictions about the correlation between firm size and strength of governance, provides new explanations for the correlation between firm size and executive compensation, and provides insights into why empirical estimates of managerial incentives are often deemed too low.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 36
Keywords: corporate governance, executive compensation, firm het- erogeneity, trends in governance
JEL Classification: D21, G30, L20working papers series
Date posted: August 5, 2010
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