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Do fiduciary duties matter?

Do fiduciary duties matter? Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore whether fiduciary duties impact the behavior of firm insiders. Trust law imposes stricter fiduciary obligations on insiders than corporate law does. This paper seeks to examine whether the difference in fiduciary duties impacts agency conflict, performance, and/or risk taking. Design/methodology/approach – The paper takes an empirical approach to answering the question by comparing mutual funds organized as trusts and as corporations. The existence of these two types of organizations within the same industry offers a unique laboratory for the study of the effects of fiduciary duties. Findings – Mutual funds organized in trust form charge significantly lower fees and take on less risk than equivalent mutual funds organized in corporate form. Evidence also suggests that the trusts tend to under‐perform their corporate counterparts, even after adjusting for differences in risk. Originality/value – Much of the existing literature on firm governance and investor protection focuses on the corporation and, hence, takes organizational form as a given. By comparing trusts and corporations, this paper examines governance at a more fundamental level and exploits heterogeneity in corporate and trust fiduciary duties. The results have implications for corporate governance design, suggesting that heightened fiduciary duties can enhance investor protection by mitigating agency conflict and managerial risk taking, though at the possible cost of inferior risk‐adjusted performance. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Corporate Governance Emerald Publishing

Do fiduciary duties matter?

Corporate Governance , Volume 11 (5): 8 – Oct 18, 2011

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2011 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1472-0701
DOI
10.1108/14720701111176957
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore whether fiduciary duties impact the behavior of firm insiders. Trust law imposes stricter fiduciary obligations on insiders than corporate law does. This paper seeks to examine whether the difference in fiduciary duties impacts agency conflict, performance, and/or risk taking. Design/methodology/approach – The paper takes an empirical approach to answering the question by comparing mutual funds organized as trusts and as corporations. The existence of these two types of organizations within the same industry offers a unique laboratory for the study of the effects of fiduciary duties. Findings – Mutual funds organized in trust form charge significantly lower fees and take on less risk than equivalent mutual funds organized in corporate form. Evidence also suggests that the trusts tend to under‐perform their corporate counterparts, even after adjusting for differences in risk. Originality/value – Much of the existing literature on firm governance and investor protection focuses on the corporation and, hence, takes organizational form as a given. By comparing trusts and corporations, this paper examines governance at a more fundamental level and exploits heterogeneity in corporate and trust fiduciary duties. The results have implications for corporate governance design, suggesting that heightened fiduciary duties can enhance investor protection by mitigating agency conflict and managerial risk taking, though at the possible cost of inferior risk‐adjusted performance.

Journal

Corporate GovernanceEmerald Publishing

Published: Oct 18, 2011

Keywords: Fiduciary duties; Organizational form; Corporate governance; Mutual funds; Trust; Corporate finances

References