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Abstract

Akerlof proposes that the norms of decision makers can bridge the gap between New Classical economic theories and conflicting empirical evidence. We apply his framework to cross-country capital structure decision making and propose a norm theory of capital structure. Consistent with its predictions, we find that two principal components that represent the manager–subordinate relationship and the manager–environment relationship in a national culture are significantly and negatively related to the median leverage ratio at the country level. This study is among the first to provide a direct link between national culture and capital structure as made operational through managerial norms.