A sample of 6169 firm year observations in 14 western European countries between 2002 and 2009 is used to investigate how committee practice within boards of directors is related to company characteristics, and to the existence of alternative corporate governance instruments in place. We find that committees in Europe are prevalent in larger companies, and in companies with large and independent boards. However, we also find that leverage, director interlocking, concentrated ownership, and the presence of managers on the board mitigate the use of committees, suggesting that committee use is limited by the existence of alternative governance mechanisms. Consequently, recent regulatory changes in Europe that promote the creation of committees within boards may be unsuited for certain types of company, especially smaller companies and those with concentrated ownership.
- 511 Economics