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The structure of equity ownership: a survey of the evidence

Nilanjan Basu (John Molson School of Business, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada)

Managerial Finance

ISSN: 0307-4358

Article publication date: 1 December 2014




The purpose of this paper is to review recent research on the structure of equity ownership and its impact on firm value. In doing so, the paper outlines the main issues, surveys the more recent work, and highlights the most promising developments on this topic.


The paper is a survey – as such there is no relevant research design.


The paper commences from multiple surveys done a decade ago that find that the evidence on this topic is inconclusive. Since then, researchers have developed several promising lines of inquiry. These approaches – specifically the new focus on the identity of the blockholders, multiple blockholder interactions, as well as the use of structural modeling, and the use of changes in insider ownership – hold some promise of being able to provide more definitive answers.

Research limitations/implications

The paper suggests that current researchers focus on newer approaches to analyzing the structure of equity ownership. Specifically, for research on blockholder ownership, the identity of blockholders as well as the interaction between blockholders are promising approaches to this topic. For research on insider ownership, structural models that have become recently popular as well as an emphasis on changes rather than levels of insider ownership are promising avenues of inquiry.


The paper summarizes the state of research on the structure of equity ownership and in doing so provides a quick introduction to a researcher new to this topic. In addition, the paper highlights the most promising areas of inquiry on this topic.



JEL Classifications — G32, G34

The author would like to thank the Editor (Robert M. Hull) and the anonymous referees for their many helpful comments. The author remains responsible for any remaining errors.


Basu, N. (2014), "The structure of equity ownership: a survey of the evidence", Managerial Finance, Vol. 40 No. 12, pp. 1175-1189.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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