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Managerial Conservatism, Project Choice, and Debt

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  • Hirshleifer, David
  • Thakor, Anjan V

Abstract

The authors show that the incentive for managers to build their reputations distorts firms' investment policies in favor of relatively safe projects, thereby aligning managers' interests with those of bondholders, even though managers are hired and fired by shareholders. This effect opposes the familiar agency problem of risky debt that is imperfectly covenant-protected, wherein shareholders are tempted to favor excessively risky projects in order to expropriate bondholders. Consequently, when managerial concern for reputation results in conservatism, it can actually make shareholders better off ex ante by allowing the firm to issue more debt. They examine how the optimal choice of leverage from the shareholders' standpoint is influenced by takeover activity, and how the adoption of anti-takeover measures affects a firm's investment policy and leverage choice. Article published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Financial Studies in its journal, The Review of Financial Studies.

Suggested Citation

  • Hirshleifer, David & Thakor, Anjan V, 1992. "Managerial Conservatism, Project Choice, and Debt," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 5(3), pages 437-470.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:rfinst:v:5:y:1992:i:3:p:437-70
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mariassunta Giannetti & Andrei Simonov, 2009. "Social Interactions and Entrepreneurial Activity," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(3), pages 665-709, September.
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    3. Landier, Augustin & Thesmar, David, 2003. "Financial Contracting with Optimistic Entrepreneurs: Theory and Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 3971, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. De Meza, D. & Southey, C., 1995. "The Borrower's Curse: Optimism, Finance and Enterpreneurship," Discussion Papers 9502, Exeter University, Department of Economics.
    5. de Meza, David & Southey, Clive, 1996. "The Borrower's Curse: Optimism, Finance and Entrepreneurship," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(435), pages 375-386, March.
    6. Arabsheibani, Gholamreza & de Meza, David & Maloney, John & Pearson, Bernard, 2000. "And a vision appeared unto them of a great profit: evidence of self-deception among the self-employed," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 35-41, April.
    7. Ramana Nanda & Jesper B. Sørensen, 2010. "Workplace Peers and Entrepreneurship," Management Science, INFORMS, pages 1116-1126.
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