Open Access

Managerial overconfidence and over-investment: Empirical evidence from China

Frontiers of Business Research in ChinaSelected Publications from Chinese Universities20093:22

Published: 8 August 2009


Based on data of A-shares listed companies in China, this paper studies the relationship between managerial overconfidence and firms’ overinvestment behaviors. We first define a manager as an overconfident one if his or her compan’s announced earnings forecast is higher than its actual earnings at least once in 2002–2004. After controlling such factors as growing opportunity, size, etc., we find that overconfident managers tend to over-invest and their overinvestment behaviors have higher sensitivity to cash flow generated by financing activities. In other word, when their firms obtain an abundant cash flow from financing activities, overconfident managers will over-invest, or vise versa. Contrary to other relevant studies, we find that the sensitivity between over-investment and free cash flow has little to do with managerial overconfidence. Robustness testing is conducted to verify the reliability of our conclusions. We also use “whether top managers increase their holdings of company shares within the observation period” as a substitute variable for managerial overconfidence and run the tests again, and the results are consistent with the above. Finally, findings of this paper indicate that it is necessary for firms to establish a scientific and rigorous investment managing mechanism.


over-investmentoverconfidencecash flow from financing activitiesfree cash flow