The Long-Term Effects of Hedge Fund Activism

77 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2013 Last revised: 2 Jul 2015

See all articles by Lucian A. Bebchuk

Lucian A. Bebchuk

Harvard Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Alon Brav

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business

Wei Jiang

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 2015


We test the empirical validity of a claim that has been playing a central role in debates on corporate governance — the claim that interventions by activist hedge funds have a detrimental effect on the long-term interests of companies and their shareholders. We subject this claim to a comprehensive empirical investigation, examining a long five-year window following activist interventions, and we find that the claim is not supported by the data.

We find no evidence that activist interventions, including the investment-limiting and adversarial interventions that are most resisted and criticized, are followed by short-term gains in performance that come at the expense of long-term performance. We also find no evidence that the initial positive stock-price spike accompanying activist interventions tends to be followed by negative abnormal returns in the long term; to the contrary, the evidence is consistent with the initial spike reflecting correctly the intervention’s long-term consequences. Similarly, we find no evidence for pump-and-dump patterns in which the exit of an activist is followed by abnormal long-term negative returns.

Our findings have significant implications for ongoing policy debates. Policymakers and institutional investors should not accept the validity of the assertions that activist interventions are costly to firms and their shareholders in the long term; such claims do not provide a valid basis for limiting the rights, powers, and involvement of shareholders.

Keywords: Corporate governance, short-termism, managerial myopia, long-term value, investor horizons, market efficiency, shareholder activism, hedge fund activism, shareholder rights, takeovers, proxy fights, takeover defenses, hedge funds

JEL Classification: G12, G23, G32, G34, G35, G38, K22

Suggested Citation

Bebchuk, Lucian A. and Brav, Alon and Jiang, Wei, The Long-Term Effects of Hedge Fund Activism (June 2015). Harvard Law School John M. Olin Center Discussion Paper No. 802; Columbia Law Review, Vol. 115, 2015, pp. 1085-1156; Columbia Business School Research Paper No. 13-66. Available at SSRN: or

Lucian A. Bebchuk (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-3138 (Phone)
617-812-0554 (Fax)


National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Alon Brav

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States
919-660-2908 (Phone)
919-684-2818 (Fax)

Wei Jiang

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States
(212) 854-5553 (Phone)

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