Principal–agency theory has influenced the formation of corporate boards worldwide. However, the viability of such an outsider-owned model has also been questioned. Weak empirical support between the structure of corporate boards and the performance of firms, and examples of bankruptcies in companies such as Enron, Lehman Brothers and Worldcom, raise doubts about the efficiency of boards. Many Asian countries are dominated by another type of model – insider governance models – relying on families and close relationships instead. Based on the central tenets of principal–agent theory and macro-level data (2006–14), we analyse differences in board efficiency between emerging economies in Asia and western economies. The findings unveil a ‘cultural effect’ where board efficiency better predicts the insider-orientated governance model that is prevalent in eastern economies. The viability of principal–agency theory as a unifying model is discussed, and then practical implications and recommendations for further research are outlined.
Martin G.A. Svensson
Empirical regularities regarding start-ups that do not show prolonged longevity have been known for some time. In this chapter, the regularity is argued to originate from an interaction between cognition-laden characteristics of entrepreneurs and contextual conditions. Overconfidence is argued to cause miscalibration of objective probabilities of success, which in turn causes excess entry, but also to negatively affect survival rates. Moreover, overconfidence is argued to be an evolutionary mechanism that helps explain the distribution of entrepreneurs at the local level. It does so by advocating overconfident entrepreneurs to be more likely to beacon personal, but miscalibrated, beliefs to others and thereby set off spillover effects. The bias is therefore argued to be detrimental to actors at an individual level (as it negatively affects survival rates), but favorable at the system level (as it facilitates spillover effects). The concluding discussion of these matters is extended by a discussion of policy issues.