Industrial diversification, partial privatization and firm valuation : evidence from publicly listed firms in China

Chen LIN, Dongwei SU

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates the relationship between industrial diversification and firm valuation in a sample of 816 publicly listed firms in China. It contributes to the literature in three ways. First, it is one of the first studies of diversification and firm value in an emerging market dominated by partially privatized firms. Second, it explores the determinants of corporate diversification by considering some unique aspects of the agency and political conflicts inherent in China's transition toward a market economy. Third, it employs a number of empirical methodologies (instrumental variables estimation, the Heckman self-selection model, and propensity score matching) to examine the relationship between diversification and firm value. The paper finds that when the decision to diversify is modeled as an endogenous choice based on firm characteristics, multi-segment firms have significantly higher Tobin's q than single-segment firms, even after controlling for factors such as ownership structure, ownership concentration, and growth opportunities. In addition, government-controlled multi-segment firms have lower Tobin's q than non-government-controlled multi-segment firms, providing evidence in support of the political cost hypothesis of diversification. Moreover, non-government-controlled firms in growth industries that perform better are more likely to diversify. Overall, our results illustrate that the valuation effect of diversification depends on government control.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-417
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Corporate Finance
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2008


  • China
  • Corporate governance
  • Diversification
  • Partial privatization
  • Political costs

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