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Corporate governance ratings and the dividend payout decisions of Australian corporate firms

Subba Reddy Yarram (UNE Business School, University of New England, Armidale, Australia)

International Journal of Managerial Finance

ISSN: 1743-9132

Article publication date: 7 April 2015

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the influence of corporate governance on the dividend payout decisions of Australian firms by considering two related objectives. First, it considers the role of corporate governance ratings (CGRs) on the decision to pay or not to pay dividends. Second, it considers the influence of CGRs on the average dividend payout level of Australian firms.

Design/methodology/approach

The sample consists of 413 non-financial firms included in the All Ordinaries Index for the period 2004-2009. A logit model is employed to analyse the decision to pay or omit dividends. Similarly, tobit method is employed to analyse the factors influencing the dividend payout level of Australian firms. To control for unobserved heterogeneity, this study employs random effects panel logit and panel tobit models.

Findings

This study finds that CGRs have a significant positive influence on the decision to pay dividends and on the average dividend payout level of Australian firms. Similarly, the present study finds support for signalling hypothesis as profitability has a significant positive influence and a loss dummy has a significant negative influence on the dividend payout decisions of Australian firms. The study also finds support for the life cycle hypothesis as growth opportunities have a significant negative impact on the average dividend payout level of Australian firms. This study finds no conclusive evidence of the existence of dividend tax clientele in Australia.

Research limitations/implications

Dividends provide a complementary governance role consistent with the “outcomes model” of the agency cost theory as proposed by La Port et al. (2000).

Practical implications

The findings have implications for corporate governance policies. Principle-based governance mechanisms work as well as the rule-based governance mechanisms in an environment characterized by high levels of investor protection and well-developed stock markets. Companies that are well governed may limit the opportunities for managers to expropriate shareholders and thus governance may reduce the contracting costs associated with compensation policies.

Originality/value

This is the first study that examines the influence of governance on dividend policy using the CGRs developed by the WHK Horwath/University of Newcastle. Findings are robust and account for unobserved heterogeneity as random effects panel models are employed.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The author wishes to acknowledge the research grant received from Institute of Public Accountants (IPA)/UNE Business School Research Grant. The author is grateful to Jim Psaros for permission to use the CGRs data published in the WHK Horwath Corporate Governance Reports. The author also thanks the Editor Dave Michayluk and the referees for constructive suggestions. Usual disclaimers apply.

Citation

Yarram, S.R. (2015), "Corporate governance ratings and the dividend payout decisions of Australian corporate firms", International Journal of Managerial Finance, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 162-178. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMF-01-2013-0012

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited