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Using unusually rich and accurate data from Oslo Stock Exchange firms, we find that corporate governance matters for economic performance, that insider ownership matters the most, that outside ownership concentration destroys market value, that direct ownership is superior to indirect, and that performance decreases with increasing board size, leverage, dividend payout, and the fraction of non-voting shares. These results persist across a wide range of single-equation models, suggesting that governance mechanisms are independent and may be analyzed one by one rather than as a bundle. Several significant relationships change sign or disappear in simultaneous equation models. This apparent indication of optimal, firm specific governance systems may instead reflect weak instruments caused by underdeveloped theories of how governance and performance interact.

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