Corporate governance, legal origin and firm performance : an Asian perspective

Abstract: This dissertation deals with corporate governance, legal origin and firm performance with a focus mainly on Asia. The dissertation consists of four individual papers and an introductory chapter. All papers can be read individually but share a common theme in corporate governance and investments. The main region of interest is Asia due to its special characteristics of ownership structures and governance. However, comparative studies of Asia and Europe as well as global outlooks are included in the dissertation too. The papers contribute to research by studying effects on investment performance, firm performance, capital allocation and capital structure from legal traditions, institutional indicators and ownership type. The first paper focuses on family ownership which is found to affect firm performance negatively when using measures of firm valuation and returns, but investment performance positively when measured by marginal q. This suggest that family owned firms may be better at avoiding bad investments but at the same time have lower market valuation and returns to capital compared to firms with other owners. The second paper investigates investment performance and firm size in terms of number of employees in 58 countries around the world. It is found that initial increase of staff size tend to positively affect investment performance overall, but excessive employment has a negative impact on investment performance. The third paper studies the capital allocation in India after their economic reforms in the 1990s. It is found that allocation of capital has been slow to respond to reforms and firms face significant costs in adjusting their capital stock, leading to inefficient capital allocation. The fourth paper deals with firm capital structure in 24 Asian and European countries. Both financial market indicators of maturity and firm specific characteristics influence the leverage of firms. Financial market maturity measures have a negative effect on debt levels as do family ownership of firms.