State Ownership and Corporate Governance

57 Pages Posted: 29 May 2011 Last revised: 7 Aug 2013

See all articles by Mariana Pargendler

Mariana Pargendler

Fundação Getulio Vargas Law School at São Paulo; New York University School of Law; European Corporate Governance Institute

Date Written: May 1, 2012


State ownership of publicly-traded corporations remains pervasive around the world, and has been increasing in recent years. Existing literature focuses on the implications of government ownership for corporate governance and performance at the firm level. This Article, by contrast, explores the different but equally important question of whether the presence of the state as a shareholder can impose negative externalities on the corporate law regime available to the private sector.

Drawing from historical experiments with government ownership in the United States, Brazil, China, and Europe, this study shows that the conflict of interest stemming from the state’s dual role as a shareholder and regulator can influence the content of corporate laws to the detriment of outside investor protection and efficiency. It thus addresses a gap in the literature on the political economy of corporate governance by incorporating the political role of the state as shareholder as another mechanism to explain the relationship between corporate ownership structures and legal investor protection. Finally, this Article explores the promise of different institutional arrangements to constrain the impact of the state’s interests as a shareholder on the corporate governance environment, and concludes by offering several policy recommendations.

Suggested Citation

Pargendler, Mariana, State Ownership and Corporate Governance (May 1, 2012). Fordham Law Review, Vol. 80, No. 6, 2012, Available at SSRN: or

Mariana Pargendler (Contact Author)

Fundação Getulio Vargas Law School at São Paulo ( email )

R. Rocha, 233, Bela Vista
São Paulo, 01330-000

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

European Corporate Governance Institute ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels

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