Corporate ownership, control, and firm performance in Victorian Britain

Graeme G. Acheson, Gareth Campbell, John D. Turner, Nadia Vanteeva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


Scholars have long debated whether ownership matters for firm performance. The standard view regarding Victorian Britain is that family-controlled companies had a detrimental effect on performance. In this article, we examine this view using a hand-collected corporate ownership dataset. Our main finding is that it was not necessarily the broad structure of corporate ownership that mattered for performance, but whether family blockholders had a governance role. Large active blockholders tended to increase operating performance, implying that they reduced managerial expropriation. Contrastingly, we find that directors who were independent of large owners were more likely to increase shareholder value.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-40
Number of pages40
JournalThe Journal of Economic History
Issue number1
Early online date25 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • corporate ownership
  • performance
  • blockholders
  • boards of directors


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