Special Topics in Corporate Finance

FIN535 Special Topics in Corporate Finance

Autumn 2018

  • Topics

    This course examines selected topics in corporate finance, including the theory of firm organization, the central role of trust in financial contracting, and institutional aspects of empirical research in corporate finance.Each topic is motivated by a foundational theoretical construct, after which we focus on empirical research that provides insight into how the related economic forces actually work.

    1. Unit 1:  The theory of firm organization
    2. Unit 2:  Trust and financial contracting
    3. Unit 3:  Institutional aspects of empirical corporate finance research

    Other possible units :

    • Takeover defenses and firm governance
    • Capital structure theory
    • Dividends and payout policy
    • International corporate governance

  • Learning outcome

    The candidate should, on successfully completing the course, be able to:


    • Discuss and have an in-depth understanding of the current research frontier of the main topics of the course.
    • Explain trust and financial contracting.
    • Explain institutional aspects of empirical corporate finance research.


    • Formulate problems, plan and carry out research within the abovementioned topics.


    • Communicate and discuss research with a peer audience.
    • Do independent research on the topics of this course.

  • Teaching

    Lectures, student presentations, and class room discussions.

  • Requirements for course approval

    Mandatory class attendance.

  • Assessment

    Written essay.

  • Grading Scale

    Grading scale: Pass-fail

  • Computer tools

    Computer with standard statistics software (e.g. Stata).

  • Literature

    Demsetz, Harold, 1983. The Structure of Ownership and the Theory of the Firm, Journal of Law and Economics 26, 375-390.

    Fama, Eugene F. and Michael C. Jensen, 1983. Agency Problems and Residual Claims, Journal of Law and Economics 26, 327-349.

    Klein, Benjamin and Keith B. Leffler, 1981. The Role of Market Forces in Assuring Contractual Performance, Journal of Political Economy 89, 615-641.

    Karpoff, Jonathan M. and Wittry, Michael D., Institutional and Legal Context in Natural Experiments: The Case of State Antitakeover Laws, forthcoming, Journal of Finance, available at https://ssrn.com/abstract=2493913.

    Karpoff, Jonathan M. and Schonlau, Robert J. and Wehrly, Eric W., Do Takeover Defense Indices Measure Takeover Deterrence? forthcoming, Review of Financial Studies, available at https://ssrn.com/abstract=2608759.

    Karpoff, Jonathan M. and Koester, Allison and Lee, D. Scott and Martin, Gerald S., Proxies and Databases in Financial Misconduct Research, forthcoming, The Accounting Review, available at https://ssrn.com/abstract=2917524.


ECTS Credits
Teaching language

Spring. June 2018

Course responsible

Professor Karpoff, Jonathan M, Foster School of Business, University of Washington