We investigate the effect of board characteristics on the relationship between bank’s institutional setting and risk-taking. We show that board members’ education mediates this relationship in a large sample of Italian cooperative and joint-stock banks over the 2006-2012 period. No evidence is found for board turnover. Our results indicate that cooperatives are more risk-averse than joint-stock banks based on their directors’ lower educational level, but only for proxy of total risk. Overall, we contribute to the debate on the higher resilience of the cooperative model and the requests by cooperative banks for more flexible and “ad hoc” corporate governance standards.
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