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Socially and privately optimal shareholder activism


  • Pascal Frantz


  • Norvald Instefjord



This paper aims to evaluate the private and social gains of shareholder activism in an optimal contracting framework involving dispersed shareholders who may become active. The social gains are based on the welfare to stake holders in the firm, whereas the private gains are based on shareholder wealth only. Active shareholders influence the contracting game with the CEO, and therefore also the size and the distribution of the surplus to be split between the shareholders and the CEO. Although the model is very simple and focussing on the creation and distribution of welfare between the shareholders and the CEO, we nonetheless identify surprising divergence between the private and social profitability of shareholder activism. Shareholder activism that is privately profitable is not necessarily socially profitable. The distributional effects of shareholder activism may dominate the efficiency effects to make shareholder activism a negative social NPV project. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Suggested Citation

  • Pascal Frantz & Norvald Instefjord, 2007. "Socially and privately optimal shareholder activism," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 11(1), pages 23-43, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jmgtgv:v:11:y:2007:i:1:p:23-43 DOI: 10.1007/s10997-007-9013-x

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Boot, Arnoud W A & Thakor, Anjan V, 2001. "The Many Faces of Information Disclosure," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 14(4), pages 1021-1057.
    2. Thomas H. Noe, 2002. "Investor Activism and Financial Market Structure," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 15(1), pages 289-318, March.
    3. Leland, Hayne E & Pyle, David H, 1977. "Informational Asymmetries, Financial Structure, and Financial Intermediation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(2), pages 371-387, May.
    4. Jensen, Michael C & Murphy, Kevin J, 1990. "Performance Pay and Top-Management Incentives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(2), pages 225-264, April.
    5. Denis, David J & Denis, Diane K & Sarin, Atulya, 1997. " Agency Problems, Equity Ownership, and Corporate Diversification," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(1), pages 135-160, March.
    6. Garen, John E, 1994. "Executive Compensation and Principal-Agent Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1175-1199, December.
    7. Hallock, Kevin F., 1997. "Reciprocally Interlocking Boards of Directors and Executive Compensation," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(03), pages 331-344, September.
    8. Murphy, Kevin J., 1999. "Executive compensation," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 38, pages 2485-2563 Elsevier.
    9. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2001. "Are CEOs Rewarded for Luck? The Ones Without Principals Are," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(3), pages 901-932.
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    More about this item


    Corporate governance; Dismissal; Executive pay; Shareholder activism; G32; J33; J41;

    JEL classification:

    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts


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