IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Corporate ownership and control in Victorian Britain

  • Acheson, Graeme G.
  • Campbell, Gareth
  • Turner, John D.
  • Vanteeva, Nadia

Using ownership and control data for 890 firm-years, this paper examines the concentration of capital and voting rights in British companies in the second half of the nineteenth century. We find that both capital and voting rights were diffuse by modern-day standards. This implies that ownership was separated from control in the UK much earlier than previously thought, and given that it occurred in an era with weak shareholder protection law, it undermines the influential law and finance hypothesis. We also find that diffuse ownership is correlated with large boards, a London head office, non-linear voting rights, and shares traded on multiple markets.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by The European Association for Banking and Financial History (EABH) in its series eabh Papers with number 14-02.

in new window

Date of creation: 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:zbw:eabhps:1402
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Geleitsstrasse 14, 60599 Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Phone: +4969-97293309
Fax: +4969-97203308
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Acheson Graeme G. & Hickson Charles R & Turner John D, 2010. "Does Limited Liability Matter? Evidence From Nineteenth-Century British Banking," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 6(2), pages 247-273, December.
  2. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1996. "Law and Finance," NBER Working Papers 5661, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Djankov, Simeon & La Porta, Rafael & Shleifer, Andrei, 2008. "The Law and Economics of Self-dealing," Scholarly Articles 2907526, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Graeme G. Acheson & John D. Turner & Qing Ye, 2012. "The character and denomination of shares in the Victorian equity market," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 65(3), pages 862-886, 08.
  5. Andrei Shleifer & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Rafael La Porta, 2008. "The Economic Consequences of Legal Origins," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(2), pages 285-332, June.
  6. Cheffins, Brian & Bank, Steven, 2009. "Is Berle and Means Really a Myth?," Business History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 83(03), pages 443-474, September.
  7. Clifford G. Holderness, 2009. "The Myth of Diffuse Ownership in the United States," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(4), pages 1377-1408, April.
  8. Colin Mayer & Julian Franks, 2003. "Ownership: Evolution and Regulation," Economics Series Working Papers 2003-FE-14, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  9. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
  10. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W., 1986. "Large Shareholders and Corporate Control," Scholarly Articles 3606237, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-De-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 1999. "Corporate Ownership Around the World," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(2), pages 471-517, 04.
  12. Jean Helwege & Christo Pirinsky & René M. Stulz, 2005. "Why Do Firms Become Widely Held? An Analysis of the ynamics of Corporate Ownership," NBER Working Papers 11505, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Davies, J.R. & Hillier, David & McColgan, Patrick, 2005. "Ownership structure, managerial behavior and corporate value," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 645-660, September.
  14. Foreman-Peck, James & Hannah, Leslie, 2011. "Extreme Divorce: the Managerial Revolution in UK Companies before 1914," Cardiff Economics Working Papers E2011/21, Cardiff University, Cardiff Business School, Economics Section.
  15. Leslie Hannah, 2007. "The Divorce of Ownership from Control from 1900: Re-calibrating Imagined Global Historical Trends," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-460, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
  16. Short, Helen & Keasey, Kevin, 1999. "Managerial ownership and the performance of firms: Evidence from the UK," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 79-101, March.
  17. Brian Cheffins and Steven Bank, 2009. "Is Berle and Means Really a Myth?," Business History Review, Harvard Business School, vol. 83(3), pages 443-474, September.
  18. Braggion, F. & Moore, L., 2008. "Dividend Policies in an Unregulated Market : The London Stock Exchange 1895-1905," Discussion Paper 2008-83, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  19. Leslie Hannah, 2007. "The 'Divorce' of ownership from control from 1900 onwards: Re-calibrating imagined global trends," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(4), pages 404-438.
  20. Acheson, Graeme G. & Hickson, Charles R. & Turner, John D. & Ye, Qing, 2009. "Rule Britannia! British Stock Market Returns, 1825-1870," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(04), pages 1107-1137, December.
  21. Demsetz, Harold & Lehn, Kenneth, 1985. "The Structure of Corporate Ownership: Causes and Consequences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1155-77, December.
  22. Eric Hilt, 2007. "When did Ownership Separate from Control? Corporate Governance in the Early Nineteenth Century," NBER Working Papers 13093, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Musacchio,Aldo, 2009. "Experiments in Financial Democracy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521518895, April.
  24. Leech, D. & Leahy, J., 1989. "Ownership Structure, Control Type Classifications And The Performance Of Large British Companies," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 345, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  25. B. Cheffins, 2001. "History and the Global Corporate Governance Revolution: The UK Perspective," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(4), pages 87-118.
  26. Elbaum, Bernard & Lazonick, William, 1984. "The Decline of the British Economy: An Institutional Perspective," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(02), pages 567-583, June.
  27. Faccio, Mara & Lang, Larry H. P., 2002. "The ultimate ownership of Western European corporations," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 365-395, September.
  28. Nyman, Steve & Silberston, Aubrey, 1978. "The Ownership and Control of Industry," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(1), pages 74-101, March.
  29. Cheffins, Brian R, 2001. "Does Law Matter? The Separation of Ownership and Control in the United Kingdom," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(2), pages 459-84, Part I Ju.
  30. Gareth Campbell & John D. Turner, 2011. "Substitutes for legal protection: corporate governance and dividends in Victorian Britain," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64(2), pages 571-597, 05.
  31. Aldo Musacchio, 2010. "Law and Finance c. 1900," NBER Working Papers 16216, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  32. Aldo Musacchio, 2008. "Laws versus Contracts: Shareholder Protections and Ownership Concentration in Brazil, 1890–1950," Business History Review, Harvard Business School, vol. 82(3), pages 445-473, September.
  33. Grossman, Richard S., 2002. "New Indices Of British Equity Prices, 1870 1913," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(01), pages 121-146, March.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zbw:eabhps:1402. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (ZBW - German National Library of Economics)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.