The Commitment Role of Equity Financing

39 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2014

See all articles by Matthias Fahn

Matthias Fahn

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Economics

Valeria Merlo

University of Tuebingen

Georg Wamser

ETH Zurich; University of Tuebingen

Date Written: June 12, 2014


Existing theories of a firm’s optimal capital structure seem to fail in explaining why many healthy and profitable firms rely heavily on equity financing, even though benefits associated with debt (like tax shields) appear to be high and the bankruptcy risk low. This holds in particular for firms that show a strong commitment towards their workforce and are popular among employees. We demonstrate that such financing behavior may be driven by implicit arrangements made between a firm and its managers/employees. Equity financing generally strengthens a firm’s credibility to honor implicit promises. Debt, on the other hand, has an adverse effect on the enforceability of these arrangements because too much debt increases the firm’s reneging temptation, as some of the negative consequences of breaking implicit promises can be shifted to creditors. Our analysis provides an explanation for why some firms only use little debt financing. Predictions made by our theory are in line with a number of empirical results, which seem to stay in contrast to existing theories on capital structure. Our findings also carry new implications for how policies (e.g., tax policy) affect firm behavior.

Keywords: relational contracts, capital structure, corporate finance, debt financing

JEL Classification: C730, D240, D860, G320

Suggested Citation

Fahn, Matthias and Merlo, Valeria and Wamser, Georg and Wamser, Georg, The Commitment Role of Equity Financing (June 12, 2014). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 4841, Available at SSRN: or

Matthias Fahn

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Economics ( email )

Ludwigstrasse 28
Munich, D-80539

Valeria Merlo

University of Tuebingen ( email )

Department of Economics
Nauklerstr. 47
Tübingen, 72074

Georg Wamser (Contact Author)

University of Tuebingen ( email )

Wilhelmstr. 19
72074 Tuebingen, Baden Wuerttemberg 72074

ETH Zurich ( email )

Weinbergstr. 35
Zurich, 8003

Do you want regular updates from SSRN on Twitter?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics