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Corporate Ownership, Control, and Firm Performance in Victorian Britain

  • Graeme G. Acheson (a1), Gareth Campbell (a2), John D. Turner (a3) and Nadia Vanteeva (a4)

Abstract

Scholars have long debated whether ownership matters for firm performance. The standard view regarding Victorian Britain is that family-controlled companies had a detrimental effect on performance. In this article, we examine this view using a hand-collected corporate ownership dataset. Our main finding is that it was not necessarily the broad structure of corporate ownership that mattered for performance, but whether family blockholders had a governance role. Large active blockholders tended to increase operating performance, implying that they reduced managerial expropriation. Contrastingly, we find that directors who were independent of large owners were more likely to increase shareholder value.

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Thanks to the Leverhulme Trust (Grant no. F/00203/Z) for financial support. Turner also wishes to thank Geoff Jones, Walter Friedman, and Harvard Business School for their hospitality at the outset of this project. Thanks to the archivists at the National Archives at Kew, the National Archives of Scotland, and the Guildhall Library for all their assistance. Thanks to seminar participants at Queen's University Belfast, University College Dublin, the Perth FRESH conference, and the European Business History Association conference for their comments.

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Corporate Ownership, Control, and Firm Performance in Victorian Britain

  • Graeme G. Acheson (a1), Gareth Campbell (a2), John D. Turner (a3) and Nadia Vanteeva (a4)

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