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An empirical comparison of the performance of classical power indices

Leech, Dennis (2002) An empirical comparison of the performance of classical power indices. Political Studies, 50 (1). pp. 1-22. ISSN 0032-3217

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Identification Number: 10.1111/1467-9248.00356


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.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: This is an electronic version of an Article published in Political Studies 50 (1), 1-22 © 2002 Blackwell Publishing. The definitive version is available at LSE has developed LSE Research Online so that users may access research output of the School. Copyright and Moral Rights for the papers on this site are retained by the individual authors and/or other copyright owners. Users may download and/or print one copy of any article(s) in LSE Research Online to facilitate their private study or for non-commercial research. You may not engage in further distribution of the material or use it for any profit-making activities or any commercial gain. You may freely distribute the URL (<>) of the LSE Research Online website.
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2006
Last Modified: 02 Apr 2024 01:27

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