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Duarte Brito, Einer Elhauge, Ricardo M. Ribeiro et al., Modeling the Objective Function of Managers in the Presence of Overlapping Shareholding, 87 Int'l J. Indus. Org. (2023).

Abstract: The objective function of managers in the presence of overlapping shareholding may differ from the traditional own-firm profit maximization, as they may internalize the externalities their strategies impose on other firms. The dominant formulation of the objective function in such cases has, however, been criticised for yielding counter-intuitive profit weights when the ownership of non-overlapping shareholders is highly dispersed. In this paper, we examine this issue. First, we make use of a probabilistic voting model (in which shareholders vote to elect the manager) to microfound an alternative formulation of the objective function of managers, which solves the above-mentioned criticism. Second, we apply the two formulations to the set of S&P 500 firms. We show that ownership dispersion of non-overlapping shareholders is, in fact, a relevant empirical issue, which may induce an over-quantification of the profit weights computed from the dominant formulation, particularly under a proportional control assumption.