Board Composition and Financial Distress : An Empirical evidence from Sweden and Denmark

University essay from Umeå universitet/Företagsekonomi; Umeå universitet/Företagsekonomi


Recent failure of such companies as Enron, Worldcom and Parmala showed that there are internal reasons contributing to company’s financial distress. Financial distress is a condition when a company fails to meet its debt obligations. Board of directors is liable for long-term decisions and their ineffective work in monitoring and controlling management can influence companies’ performance. With that in mind, in this degree project, we would like to answer the following research question: “What is the relationship between characteristics of Board and probability of financial distress, measured by Altman’s Z-score models in Sweden and Denmark?”


The epistemological and ontological choices for our study were positivism and objectivism with deductive approach. We have calculated Z-scores of Swedish and Danish companies in order to detect distressed and healthy companies. Further on, the information about board composition in each company was collected; mainly we were interested in board independence, board size, board ownership, COB ownership, CEO duality and employee representatives.


In order to examine if there is a relationship between board composition and financial distress, we have done Multiple and Binary Regression analyses. Based on the results we can state that board independence, board ownership and employee representatives and market capitalization (control variable) have significant relationship with probability of financial distress. Our study is interesting since we have looked at employee representatives, as a board characterectic that is specific for Nordic countries and that was not studied before. In addition, we have found that there is no CEO duality in Sweden and Denmark, since all companies in our sample followed the Companies’ Acts. COB ownership, the additional variable we wanted to test and board size have shown no significant relationship.

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