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Corporate Diversification and Agency

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  • Benjamin E. Hermalin and Michael L. Katz.

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Benjamin E. Hermalin and Michael L. Katz Keywords: diversification; principal-agent relationship Firms undertake a variety of actions to reduce risk through diversification, including entering diverse lines of business, taking on project partners, and maintaining portfolios of risky projects such as R&D or natural resource exploration. By a well-known argument, securities holders do not directly benefit from risk-reducing corporate diversification when they can replicate this diversification on their own. Moreover, shareholders should be risk neutral with respect to the unsystematic risk that is associated with many research projects. Some have argued that corporate risk reduction may be of value, or can otherwise be explained by, the agency relationship between securities holders and managers. We argue that the value of diversification strategies in an agency relationship derives not from its effects on risk, but rather from its effects on the principal's information about the agent's actions. We demonstrate by example that diversification activities may increase or decrease the principal's information, depending on the particular structure of the activity. January 2000

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Paper provided by University of California at Berkeley in its series Research Program in Finance Working Papers with number RPF-291.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2000
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Handle: RePEc:ucb:calbrf:rpf-291

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  1. Benjamin E. Hermalin and Michael L. Katz., 1990. "Moral Hazard and Verifiability: The Effects of Renegotiation in Agency," Economics Working Papers 90-141, University of California at Berkeley.
  2. Bengt Holmstrom, 1997. "Moral Hazard and Observability," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1205, David K. Levine.
  3. James A. Mirrlees, 1976. "The Optimal Structure of Incentives and Authority Within an Organization," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 7(1), pages 105-131, Spring.
  4. Randall Morck & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1989. "Do Managerial Objectives Drive Bad Acquisitions?," NBER Working Papers 3000, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  6. Sanford J Grossman & Oliver D Hart, 2001. "An Analysis of the Principal-Agent Problem," Levine's Working Paper Archive 391749000000000339, David K. Levine.
  7. Hermalin, Benjamin E, 1993. "Managerial Preferences Concerning Risky Projects," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(1), pages 127-35, April.
  8. Smith, Clifford W. & Stulz, René M., 1985. "The Determinants of Firms' Hedging Policies," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(04), pages 391-405, December.
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  10. Kim, Son Ku, 1995. "Efficiency of an Information System in an Agency Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(1), pages 89-102, January.
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  16. Debra J. Aron, 1988. "Ability, Moral Hazard, Firm Size, and Diversification," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 19(1), pages 72-87, Spring.
  17. Harris, Milton & Raviv, Artur, 1990. " Capital Structure and the Informational Role of Debt," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 45(2), pages 321-49, June.
  18. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
  19. Steven Shavell, 1979. "Risk Sharing and Incentives in the Principal and Agent Relationship," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 55-73, Spring.
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Cited by:
  1. Enrico Perotti & Ernst Ludwig von Thadden, 2004. "The Political Economy of Bank- and Market Dominance," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-012/2, Tinbergen Institute.
  2. Claessens, Stijn & Djankov, Simeon & Joseph P. H. Fan & Lang, Larry H. P., 1999. "Corporate diversification in East Asia : the role of ultimate ownership and group affiliation," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2089, The World Bank.
  3. Perotti, Enrico C & von Thadden, Ernst-Ludwig, 2003. "The Political Economy of Bank and Equity Dominance," CEPR Discussion Papers 3914, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Nancy L. Rose & Andrea Shepard, 1997. "Firm Diversification and CEO Compensation: Managerial Ability or Executive Entrenchment?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(3), pages 489-514, Autumn.
  5. Andriosopoulos, Dimitris & Andriosopoulos, Kostas & Hoque, Hafiz, 2013. "Information disclosure, CEO overconfidence, and share buyback completion rates," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(12), pages 5486-5499.
  6. Felipe Balmaceda, 2002. "Corporate Diversification: Good for Some Bad for Others," Documentos de Trabajo 141, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.

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