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Agency Problems and Dividend Policies Around the World

Author

Listed:
  • Rafael La Porta
  • Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes
  • Andrei Shleifer
  • Robert W. Vishny

Abstract

This paper addresses the question of why firms pay dividends, the so-called "dividend puzzle," from the agency perspective. We outline two agency models of dividends. On what we call "the outcome" model, dividends are the result of effective pressure by minority shareholders to force corporate insiders to disgorge cash. Under this model, stronger minority shareholder rights should be associated with higher dividends. On what we call "the substitute" model, insiders choose to pay dividends to establish a reputation for decent treatment of minority shareholders so that firms can raise equity finance in the future. Under this model. stronger minority shareholder rights reduce the need for establishing a reputation, and so should be associated with lower dividends. We compare these models on a cross-section of 4,000 companies from around the world, which operate in 33 countries with different levels of shareholder protection, and therefore different strength of minority shareholder rights. The findings on payout levels and other results support the outcome agency model of dividends.

Suggested Citation

  • Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1998. "Agency Problems and Dividend Policies Around the World," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1839, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:1839
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    Cited by:

    1. Lee, Bong-Soo & Suh, Jungwon, 2005. "What drives volatile emerging stock market returns?," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 367-385, September.
    2. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer, 1998. "Corporate Ownership Around the World," NBER Working Papers 6625, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Rossi, Stefano & Volpin, Paolo F., 2004. "Cross-country determinants of mergers and acquisitions," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 277-304, November.
    4. Kim, Euysung, 2006. "The impact of family ownership and capital structures on productivity performance of Korean manufacturing firms: Corporate governance and the "chaebol problem"," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 209-233, June.
    5. Lombardo, Davide & Pagano, Marco, 1999. "Legal Determinants of the Return on Equity," CEPR Discussion Papers 2275, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Wendy Carlin & Colin Mayer, 2002. "International Evidence on Corporate Governance: Lessons for Developing Countries," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 11(suppl_1), pages 37-59, February.
    7. Zorica Kalezić, 2015. "Ownership Concentration and Firm Performance in Transition Economies: Evidence from Montenegro," Journal of Central Banking Theory and Practice, Central bank of Montenegro, vol. 4(3), pages 5-64.
    8. Peter-Jan Engelen, 2003. "Law and Finance - State of the Art," Ekonomia journal, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw, vol. 9.
    9. Sullivan, Michael J. & Unite, Angelo A., 2001. "The influence of group affiliation and the underwriting process on emerging market IPOs: The case of the Philippines," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 9(5), pages 487-512, November.
    10. Portolano, Alessandro, 2000. "The decision to adopt defensive tactics in Italy," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 425-452, December.
    11. Chisari, Omar O. & Ferro, Gustavo, 2009. "Gobierno Corporativo: los problemas, estado actual de la discusión y un ejercicio de medición para Argentina
      [Corporate Governance: the problems, the current stage of the discussion and a measureme
      ," MPRA Paper 15630, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Raluca-Georgiana MOSCU, 2012. "Determinant Agents Analysis of Dividend Policies Practiced by Companies Listed in Great Britain and France," Romanian Statistical Review Supplement, Romanian Statistical Review, vol. 60(1), pages 28-34, March.

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