Patterns of corporate ownership: Insights from a unique data set

Patterns of corporate ownership: Insights from a unique data set

By Øyvind Bøhren and Bernt Arne Ødegaard

Nordic Journal of Political Economy, vol 27, issue 1, pages 55--86, 2001.


Using a data base which is exceptionally rich and accurate by international standards, this paper quantifies a wide range of ownership structure characteristics for all Oslo Stock Exchange firms in the period 1989--1997. Overall, we find that their ownership structures differ remarkably from those of other European firms. We speculate that a social-democratic rule and strong legal protection of stockholder rights may explain why the personal investment in Norwegian listed firms is so limited (low direct ownership), why the largest owner is so small (low concentration), and why the other major owners are so large (flat power structure). Our findings raise two questions about the viability of corporate governance systems in general. The first is whether delegated monitoring carried out by state bureaucrats and corporate managers is an effective disciplining mechanism. The second question is whether low ownership concentration produces strong managers and weak owners or whether the flat power structure facilitates joint monitoring by owners who are individually weak, but collectively strong.

The published paper is downloadable as a pdf file.