The emerging market for European corporate governance: The relationship between governance and capital expensitures, 1997-2005

We examine European corporate governance with respect to the relationship between shareholder value and capital investment. Based upon Europe’s largest listed companies, it is shown that Anglo-American conceptions of shareholder value are increasinglyimportant for European firms whatever their home jurisdictions and inherited traditions. Using annual capital expenditures as a proxy for corporate managers’ commitment to shareholder value it is shown contra arguments to the effect that the map of European corporate governance regimes is fixed and virtually immutable, even largefirms from paradigmatic stakeholder regimes believed focused upon long-term value increasingly act to maximise short-term shareholder value. We divide Europe into three regions based on ownership concentration, legal systems, board structures, and the presenceof corporate governance codes. In this multi-jurisdictional setting, we compare the effects of different elements of corporate governance on capital expenditures in each region.Our analysis shows that the overall effect of investor-sensitive corporate governance on capital expenditures is consistently negative notwithstanding differences in the formal nature and quality of governance standards between regions. We explain this findingby reference to the governance standards of United Kingdom: a market for corporate governance that has come to dominate its continental European neighbours.

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