Financial development, agency and the pace of adoption of new techniques

Publication Date
Financial Markets Group Discussion Papers DP 389
Publication Authors

We study the relation of financial development and the pace of technological advance in a dynamic agency theoretic model. A firm which is financed by outside shareholders but run by managers has the prospect of a process innovation which arrives stochastically. Adopting the innovation requires firing old management and hiring new with skills appropriate for the new technique. We show that subgame perfect equilibria in this game can be of two types. In "entrenchment" equilibrium once the new technique has been announced old style management raises their dividend payout sufficiently to preempt the innovation. In "maximum rent extraction" equilibrium" managers are unable or unwilling to match the impending productivity improvement and instead respond by increasing their perquisites for the remaining time of their tenure. We show that both equilibria involve several types of inefficiencies and can result in underinvestment in positive NPV projects. We discuss the role of financial innovation in reducing the inefficiencies identified.