Institutional investors on boards: Does their behavior influence corporate finance?
We examine whether the behavior of institutional investors representatives on boards leads to observable differences in corporate finance. We find that directors representing pressure-sensitive investors (i.e., banks and insurance companies) prefer lower financial leverage whereas pressure-resistant directors (i.e., mutual funds and pension funds) show no particular preference. When analysed separately, directors appointed by banks and insurance firms have different attitudes. Bank representatives on boards increase both the financial leverage and the banking debt. This result suggests that some types of institutional directors provide financial resources to the firms on whose board they sit, supporting the view that boards manage the uncertainty associated with strategic decision making and provide firms with preferential access to resources and financial expertise. This research has interesting academic and policy implications for the debate over the proper degree of institutional involvement in corporate governance. Different institutional investors have different agendas and incentives for corporate governance, and, therefore, both researchers and policy makers should no longer consider institutional investors as a whole. In addition, our paper calls for new research on the causes and implications of institutional investors involvement in the corporate governance of nonfinancial firms. This new research could require new insights on the dynamics within the boards and on the interplay among the knowledge, incentives and attitudes of quite different directors.