Disproportional Ownership Devices: Reviewing the Last 25 Years of Research

  •  Sara Saggese    
  •  Fabrizia Sarto    


The paper aims to systematize the literature on disproportional ownership devices by reviewing and classifying 148 articles published in international academic journals over the last 25 years. The findings show that the scholarly attention on disproportional ownership devices has grown over time. Most papers adopt the agency framework and examine the mechanisms for leveraging voting power and to lock-in control, especially in civil law countries. Corporate governance journals prevail as leading outlets, despite the lack of publications specialized on the topic. Finally, the literature systematization highlights a research taxonomy based on outcomes and drivers of disproportional ownership devices. The article has both theoretical and practical implications. First, it develops a literature framework that systematically outlines the main research streams on the topic and identifies under-explored issues so as to guide future scholarly efforts. Second, it highlights the implications of disproportional ownership devices for company outcomes and reporting. Thereby, on the one hand, it supports managers in selecting the appropriate combination of these mechanisms so as to attract and retain investors. On the other hand, it emphasizes the importance of proper policy making interventions to improve transparency, openness and competitiveness of financial markets.

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