SnO events

1 January 1970

SnO meeting: Research presentation by Brian Silverman

  • When: 01/01/1970 - 02/04/2015
  • Where: HEC Paris

The next SnO meeting next SnO meeting is organized jointly with the SPE department. Brian Silverman from Rotman School Business, University of Toronto, will present his research on "Managing Agency Problems in Early Shareholder Capitalism: Liverpool Shipping in the 18th Century"


We explore the relationship between asset ownership and incentives in a historical setting: captain-ownership of vessels engaged in 18th-century transatlantic shipping. Although contingent compensation aligned incentives between captains and shipowners regarding most events, one difficult-to-contract hazard was the threat of capture by an enemy nation’s privateering vessels. We exploit variation across time and routes to study the relationship between capture threat and equity ownership. Vessels were more likely to have captain-owners when undertaking wartime voyages on routes susceptible to privateers. Vessels with captain-owners were less likely to be captured than those with non-owner captains, but were also more likely to forego voyage profits to preserve the safety of the vessel. These results demonstrate a basic impact of equity ownership on behavior that has been empirically elusive, while also pointing to the need for a multitask agency approach that dis-aggregates the behavior of owner managers rather than examining only aggregate financial performance.

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