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Bankruptcy Decision Making: An Empirical Study of Continuation Bias in Small-Business Bankruptcies

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  • Edward R. Morrison

Abstract

Many small businesses attempt to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, but most are ultimately liquidated instead. Little is known about this shutdown decision. It is widely suspected that the bankruptcy process exhibits a continuation bias, allowing failing businesses to linger under the protection of the court, which resists liquidation even when it is optimal. This paper examines the shutdown decision in a sample of Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases filed in a typical bankruptcy court over the course of a year. The presence of continuation bias is tested along several dimensions—the extent of managerial control over the bankruptcy process, the accuracy and speed with which viable and nonviable businesses are distinguished, and the characteristics of the hazard of shutdown compared with the predictions of a formal model. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the paper finds that continuation bias is either absent or empirically unimportant.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward R. Morrison, 2007. "Bankruptcy Decision Making: An Empirical Study of Continuation Bias in Small-Business Bankruptcies," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50, pages 381-419.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:50:y:2007:p:381-419
    DOI: 10.1086/511319
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Régis Blazy & Bertrand Chopard & Agnès Fimayer & Jean-Daniel Guigou, 2007. "Financial versus Social Efficiency of Corporate Bankruptcy Law: the French Dilemma?," LSF Research Working Paper Series 07-02, Luxembourg School of Finance, University of Luxembourg.
    2. Blazy, Régis & Letaief, Aziza, 2017. "When secured and unsecured creditors recover the same: The emblematic case of the Tunisian corporate bankruptcies," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 19-41.
    3. Blazy, Régis & Chopard, Bertrand & Nigam, Nirjhar, 2013. "Building legal indexes to explain recovery rates: An analysis of the French and English bankruptcy codes," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 1936-1959.
    4. repec:kap:ejlwec:v:45:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s10657-017-9560-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Diana Bonfim & Daniel Dias & Christine Richmond, 2011. "What Happens After Default? Stylized Facts on Access to Credit," Working Papers w201101, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    6. Xavier Giné & Inessa Love, 2010. "Do Reorganization Costs Matter for Efficiency? Evidence from a Bankruptcy Reform in Colombia," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(4), pages 833-864.
    7. Bonfim, Diana & Dias, Daniel A. & Richmond, Christine, 2012. "What happens after corporate default? Stylized facts on access to credit," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(7), pages 2007-2025.
    8. Régis BLAZY & Nirjhar NIGAM, 2018. "Corporate insolvency procedures in England: The uneasy case for liquidations," Working Papers of LaRGE Research Center 2018-02, Laboratoire de Recherche en Gestion et Economie (LaRGE), Université de Strasbourg.
    9. Edward R. Morrison, 2009. "Bargaining around Bankruptcy: Small Business Workouts and State Law," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(2), pages 255-307, June.
    10. repec:eur:ejisjr:185 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Elisa Brodi & Luca Casolaro, 2017. "Debtor-in-possession financing and credit priority: the effects of the preferential status granted by law in a composition with creditors," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 387, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    12. Blazy, Régis & Chopard, Bertrand & Fimayer, Agnès & Guigou, Jean-Daniel, 2011. "Employment preservation vs. creditors' repayment under bankruptcy law: The French dilemma?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 126-141, June.
    13. Régis Blazy & Bertrand Chopard, 2012. "(Un)secured debt and the likelihood of court-supervised reorganization," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 34(1), pages 45-61, August.

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