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Class Struggle Inside the Firm: A Study of German Codetermination

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  • Gary Gorton
  • Frank Schmid

Abstract

Who should control the firm? What should be the firm's objective function? If contracts are incomplete, then the group of input providers that most needs their interests protected should be allocated control rights to the firm. Existing theories argue that the suppliers of capital are most in need of protection. We empirically assess this answer by examining the German system of "codetermination," a governance system under which employees are allocated some control rights over corporate assets by law. Codetermination laws require that employees be represented on the (supervisory) board of directors. If codetermination sufficiently empowers employees, and if stockholders' rights cannot be contractually protected, then employees may redistribute the firm's surplus towards themselves. In addition, if employee interests are not contractually protected, then employees' may prefer a different objective function for the firm. For example, employees may hamper capitalist flexibility by resisting restructuring of the firm if that would jeopardize their human capital. We examine this with particular reference to the unification of East Germany and West Germany, a shock that may have caused employees in the former West to resist restructuring; the more so in codetermined firms. We also examine whether shareholders respond to codetermination with more concentrated block holdings, perhaps increasing their bargaining power with employees, or with higher leverage, committing more cash to leave the firm. Finally, we examine the relationship between codetermination and the performance sensitivity of compensation for board members.

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Paper provided by Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania in its series Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers with number 00-36.

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Date of creation: Aug 2000
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Handle: RePEc:wop:pennin:00-36

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Keywords: Codetermination; control rights; ownership structure;

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Cited by:
  1. Abe, Naohito & Gaston, Noel & Kubo, Katsuyuki, 2005. "Executive pay in Japan: the role of bank-appointed monitors and the Main Bank relationship," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 371-394, August.
  2. Chilosi, Alberto & Damiani, Mirella, 2007. "Stakeholders vs. shareholders in corporate governance," MPRA Paper 2334, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Felix FitzRoy & Kornelius Kraft, 2005. "Co-determination, Efficiency and Productivity," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 43(2), pages 233-247, 06.
  4. Frank A. Schmid & Mark Wahrenburg, 2002. "Mergers and acquisitions in Germany," Working Papers 2002-027, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  5. Claessens, Stijn & Yurtoglu, B. Burcin, 2013. "Corporate governance in emerging markets: A survey," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 15(C), pages 1-33.
  6. William R. Emmons & Frank A. Schmid, 2001. "Corporate governance, entrenched labor, and economic growth," Working Papers 2001-023, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  7. Goergen, M. & Manjon, M.C. & Renneboog, L.D.R., 2004. "Recent Developments in German Corporate Governance," Discussion Paper 2004-123, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  8. Philippon, Thomas, 2006. "Corporate governance over the business cycle," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 30(11), pages 2117-2141, November.
  9. Pagano, Marco & Volpin, Paolo, 2002. "Managers, Workers and Corporate Control," CEPR Discussion Papers 3649, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Rossini, Gianpaolo, 2005. "Outsourcing with labor management," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 455-466, December.
  11. Marc Goergen & Miguel Manjon & Luc Renneboog, 2008. "Is the German system of corporate governance converging towards the Anglo-American model?," Journal of Management and Governance, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 37-71, March.

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