We have written a detailed essay presenting practical vision of the responsibilities of lawyers as both professionals and as citizens at the beginning of the 21st century. Specifically, we seek to define and give content to four ethical responsibilities that we believe are of signal importance to lawyers in their fundamental roles as expert technicians, wise counselors, and effective leaders: responsibilities to their clients and stakeholders; responsibilities to the legal system; responsibilities to their institutions; and responsibilities to society at large. Our fundamental point is that the ethical dimensions of lawyering for this era must be given equal attention to—and must be highlighted and integrated with—the significant economic, political, and cultural changes affecting major legal institutions and the people and institutions lawyers serve.
Posts Tagged ‘Social capital’
In our paper, Revisiting Executive Pay in Family-Controlled Firms, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, we reexamine executive pay in family-controlled firms and challenge the findings in the existing literature.
According to the prior literature, family executives of family-controlled firms receive lower compensation than non-family executives. Using 82 family-controlled firms in the U.S. in 1988, McConaughy (2000) report that family CEOs are paid lower compensation than non-family CEOs. Likewise, Gomez-Mejia, Larraza-Kintana, and Makri (2003) show similar findings using a sample of 253 family-controlled firms in the U.S. during 1995-98.
The quality of the top management team of a firm is an important determinant of its performance. This is an obvious statement to many. Yet, there is little evidence that relates top management team quality to firm performance in a causal manner. Part of the challenge in doing so stems from assigning a measure to the quality of the top management team. There are, after all, various aspects of top managers that contribute to their performance, including their education, their connections and prior experience. Another reason that relating management quality to firm performance is hard is that one can argue that the best managers can simply select into the best firms to work in. This makes making causal statements extremely hard in this context. As a result, while one can point toward anecdotal evidence relating good managers to good performance (e.g., Steve Jobs of Apple), systematic evidence is lacking in the academic literature on this issue. The relation between management quality and firm performance is important in more than just an academic context. For instance, analysts frequently cite top management quality as a reason to invest in a stock. Thus, one needs to ask what they mean by “quality,” and does it really impact the future performance of the firm.
The financial crisis that began in 2007 prompted a tidal wave of thinking about financial regulation. One major theme that has been pursued by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, journalists, and scholars—most recently in Other People’s Houses, by Jennifer Taub—is the question of what went wrong in the years or decades leading up the crisis. A second strand of research answers the question of what substantive regulations we should have; one important book in this genre is The Banker’s New Clothes, by Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig. But beyond the issue of what regulations are appropriate for today’s complex financial system, a third important area of inquiry is the political and administrative landscape in which financial regulations (whether statutes, rules, administrative guidances, or court opinions) are hammered out. After all, if it were somehow possible to design a perfect regulatory framework, it could only become effective by navigating through the complicated web of interests and incentives that encompasses the legislative and executive (and perhaps judicial) branches.
The Japanese insider ownership system began to fall apart approximately twenty years after it came into operation at the beginning of the 1970s. In our paper, The Ownership of Japanese Corporations in the 20th Century, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, we suggest that the insider system emerged in the first place because the alternative institutions for promoting outside ownership failed. The problem was not with the legal framework, which was relatively strong in Japan. Instead, the failure was due to the absence of institutional reputational capital in equity markets equivalent to that embedded in the business coordinators and zaibatsu earlier in the century. The first point that this brings out is that the destruction of institutions, such as zaibatsu, can be serious in terms of economic performance. The second point is that the creation of new institutions of trust to replace previous institutions is complex and not readily achieved by design.
In our paper, Span of Control and Span of Attention, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, we use novel data to better understand the role of the CEO and the relationship to the executive team as represented by the CEO’s span of control. We collect detailed time use information for a large sample of CEOs and use it to characterize how CEOs allocate their time. We compare how this new and more comprehensive measure—span of attention—is related to the more traditional notion of span of control.
The collective behavior of corporate leaders is often critical in corporate wrongdoing, and the CEO often plays the central role. Yet there is no comprehensive study exploring how CEOs and their influence within executive suites and the boardroom impact corporate wrongdoing. In our paper, CEO Connectedness and Corporate Frauds, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, we focus on the effects of CEOs’ social influence accumulated during the CEO’s tenure through top executive and director appointment decisions.
Connections between firms and politicians are widespread around the world. Faccio (2006) documents the existence of publicly traded firms with national political connections in 35 of 45 countries; these firms account for nearly 8% of the world’s stock market capitalization. She also documents that national political connections are valuable, especially in countries with weak political institutions.
In our paper, The Value of Local Political Connections in a Low-Corruption Environment, forthcoming in the Journal of Financial Economics, we explore the value of local political connections in a low-corruption environment. We use an administrative reform that generates exogenous variations in the size of local municipalities in Denmark to establish the effect of changes in political power on the profitability of firms that have family ties with local politicians. On average, we find that (1) doubling the political power (as measured by population per elected politician) doubles the performance of politically connected firms, and (2) the effect is larger in industries delivering goods and services to the public sector.
Corporate managers, bankers, and policy makers alike have expressed concerns that the recent dearth of initial public offerings (IPOs) has caused a breakdown in the engine of innovation and growth. In the paper, Does Going Public Affect Innovation?, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, I explore whether the transition to public equity markets indeed affects innovation, and if so, how. Theoretically, the effect of IPOs on innovation is ambiguous. On the one hand, going public provides improved access to capital that may allow firms to enhance their innovative activities; on the other hand, market pressures and potential departure of employees following the IPO may lead to opposite results.
To answer this question, I use standard patent-based metrics to capture changes in innovative activity in the years around the IPO and focus on three important dimensions of firms’ innovative activity: internally generated innovation, the productivity and mobility choices of individual inventors, and the acquisition of external innovation.
In a paper recently published in Fordham Law Review, Corporate Philanthropy as Signaling and Co-optation, I examine a previously unnoticed mechanism through which corporate philanthropy (CP) can enhance company value: signaling.
Current value-enhancing accounts rest on the premise that CP “buys goodwill” for the company: companies, by acting nicely, can increase consumers’ or employees’ willingness to pay. But the necessary conditions underlying this theory are simply too unrealistic. For one, consumers have to be aware of companies’ CP policies and be willing to pay to delegate their philanthropy (that is, pay for someone else’s charitable preferences). We should focus less on charitable preferences and warm-glow concepts, and more on the potential of pro-social sacrifices to convey messages about a firm’s fundamentals. Explicit sacrifices of profits can serve as costly signals. They reliably convey messages about attributes that are important to shareholders, consumers, and employees – who are evaluating whether to invest in, buy products from, or work for those companies (that is, important even to those stakeholders who are strictly profit-minded).
To illustrate, the paper elaborates on the option of CP as a costly signal to investors. An increase in the level of donations could convey messages about financial strength to potential investors, who could infer that future free cash flows are perceived by insiders to be relatively high, that the company is now less financially constrained, or that the riskiness of future cash flows has decreased. Pro-sociality could also bridge asymmetric information between insiders and non-financial stakeholders, such as employees and consumers, by conveying messages about the styles and characteristics of top management and the extent to which they are subject to short-termism.