Does board independence constrain insider opportunism?

Dewan Rahman, Robert Faff*, Barry Oliver

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

We examine whether insider opportunism is reduced by board independence. Using a sample of 18,194 firm-year observations over the period 1996–2016, we show that board independence constrains opportunistic insider trading. Our identification strategy uses the Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX Act) and associated changes to the listing rules of NYSE/NASDAQ as a source of exogenous shocks in board independence. Our results are economically significant as insider opportunism declines by about 10.5%. We find that insider trading restrictions is the channel through which board independence reduces insider opportunism. Our additional analyses show that in competitive and R&D (research and development) intensive firms, the impact of board independence on opportunism is less pronounced. We also find that board independence constrains opportunism only in less complex firms. However, in co-opted boards, independent directors are less effective. Overall, we support the monitoring channel of board independence for reducing insider opportunism. JEL Classification: G14, G34, G40

Original languageEnglish
JournalAustralian Journal of Management
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes

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