An Empirical Comparison of the Performance of Classical Power Indices

Power indices are general measures of the relative a priori voting power of individual members of a voting body. They are useful for both positive and normative analysis of voting bodies particularly those using weighted voting. This paper applies new algorithms for computing the rival Shapley-Shubik and Banzhaf indices for large voting bodies to shareholder voting power in a cross section of British companies. Each company is a separate voting body and there is much variation in ownership between them resulting in different power structures. Because the data are incomplete, both finite and “oceanic” games of shareholder voting are analysed. The indices are appraised, using reasonable criteria, from the literature on corporate control. The results are unfavourable to the Shapley-Shubik index and suggest that the Banzhaf index much better reflects the variations in the power of shareholders between companies as the weights of shareholder blocs vary.

Issue Date:
Oct 10 2001
Publication Type:
Working or Discussion Paper
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