Does Public Ownership and Accountability Increase Diversity?: Evidence From IPOs

34 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2019

See all articles by Rembrand Koning

Rembrand Koning

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

John-Paul Ferguson

McGill University

Date Written: January 14, 2019


Does public ownership improve employment diversity? Organizational researchers theorize that increased transparency to regulators and the public should lead firms to conform to legal and social norms; but also that social closure and decoupling should preserve the status quo. Empirical research has been difficult because we lack data on comparable private firms and because firms likely self-select into going public. We construct a new, nationally representative dataset that links firms' filings for initial public offerings to longitudinal data on employment composition from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. We construct a set of comparable firms by looking at companies that filed and then withdrew a plan for an IPO. To account for selection bias in withdrawal and IPO success, we instrument the transition to public ownership using market returns in the book-building phase of the firms' IPO attempts. We find no evidence that moving from private to public ownership increases the representation of women or nonwhite workers or managers. We discuss the implications of this finding for our ability to generalize findings in organizational research.

Keywords: IPO, Diversity, Discrimination, Governance, Accountability

JEL Classification: J14, J71, G32, G34

Suggested Citation

Koning, Rembrand and Ferguson, John-Paul, Does Public Ownership and Accountability Increase Diversity?: Evidence From IPOs (January 14, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Rembrand Koning

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Boston, MA 02163
United States

John-Paul Ferguson (Contact Author)

McGill University ( email )

1001 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest
Montreal, Quebec H2V 2L5


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