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Biased monitors: Corporate governance when managerial ability is mis-assessed

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  • Hermalin, Benjamin E.

Abstract

An important aspect of corporate governance is the assessment of managers. When managers vary in ability, determining who is good and who is not is vital. Moreover, knowing they will be assessed can lead those being assessed to behave in ways that make them appear better. Such signal-jamming behavior can be beneficial (e.g., an executive works harder on behalf of shareholders) or harmful (e.g., the behavior is myopic, boosting short-term performance at the expense of long-term success). In standard models of assessment, it is assumed those doing the assessing behave according to Bayes Theorem. But what if the assessors suffer from one of many well-documented cognitive biases that makes them less-than-perfect Bayesians? This paper begins an exploration of that issue by considering the consequence of one such bias, the base-rate fallacy, for two of the canonical assessment models: career-concerns and optimal monitoring and replacement. Although firms can suffer due to the base-rate fallacy, they can also benefit from this bias.

Suggested Citation

  • Hermalin, Benjamin E., 2018. "Biased monitors: Corporate governance when managerial ability is mis-assessed," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 70-80.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jjieco:v:47:y:2018:i:c:p:70-80
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jjie.2017.10.005
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2011. "Identity, Morals, and Taboos: Beliefs as Assets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 805-855.
    2. Benjamin E. Hermalin & Michael S. Weisbach, 2012. "Information Disclosure and Corporate Governance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 67(1), pages 195-234, February.
    3. Jeremy C. Stein, 1989. "Efficient Capital Markets, Inefficient Firms: A Model of Myopic Corporate Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(4), pages 655-669.
    4. Hermalin, Benjamin E. & Weisbach, Michael S., 2017. "Assessing Managerial Ability: Implications for Corporate Governance," Working Paper Series 2017-01, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
    5. Hermalin, Benjamin E & Weisbach, Michael S, 1998. "Endogenously Chosen Boards of Directors and Their Monitoring of the CEO," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 96-118, March.
    6. Benjamin E. Hermalin, 2005. "Trends in Corporate Governance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(5), pages 2351-2384, October.
    7. Bengt Holmström, 1999. "Managerial Incentive Problems: A Dynamic Perspective," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 169-182.
    8. Fama, Eugene F, 1980. "Agency Problems and the Theory of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(2), pages 288-307, April.
    9. Stein, Jeremy C., 2003. "Agency, information and corporate investment," Handbook of the Economics of Finance,in: G.M. Constantinides & M. Harris & R. M. Stulz (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Finance, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 111-165 Elsevier.
    10. Bengt Holmstrom, 1999. "Managerial Incentive Problems: A Dynamic Perspective," NBER Working Papers 6875, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Corporate governance; Career concerns; Learning and assessment; Cognitive biases;

    JEL classification:

    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance
    • M12 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Personnel Management; Executives; Executive Compensation
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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