Corporate Governance and Risk Taking
New York University (NYU) - Department of Finance
Lubomir P. Litov
University of Arizona - Department of Finance; University of Pennsylvania - Wharton Financial Institutions Center
Bernard Yin Yeung
National University of Singapore - Business School
This paper examines the relationship between investor protection and corporate insiders' incentive to take value-enhancing risks. In a poor investor protection environment corporations are often run by entrenched insiders who appropriate considerable corporate resources as personal benefits. When these private benefits are large, insiders may undertake sub-optimally conservative investment decisions to preserve them. Better investor protection reduces these private benefits and may therefore induce riskier but value enhancing investment policy. Such a relationship can also result from risk-averse behavior on the part of dominant shareholders with undiversified exposure in their own firms, which is again more prevalent in countries with poorer investor protection. If prominent non-equity stakeholders such as banks, labor unions or the government can influence corporate investment, and their influence is decreasing in investor protection, that can also give rise to a positive relationship between investor protection and investment risk. We test these predictions using a large cross-country panel. We find empirical confirmation that corporate risk-taking and firm growth rates are positively related to the quality of investor protection. On the other hand, the data do not lead to consistent evidence for the alternative channels.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 67
Keywords: Corporate Governance, Investor Protection, Managerial Incentives
JEL Classification: G15, G31, G34
Date posted: April 13, 2007
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