This thesis investigates the investment preferences of institutional investors in the United States (US). In the second chapter, I analyse the impact of both firm and country-level determinants of foreign institutional investment. I find that the governance quality in a foreign institutional investor's (FII) home country is a determinant of their decision to invest in the US market. My findings indicate that investors who come from countries with governance setups similar to that of the US invest more in the United States. The investment levels though, are more pronounced for countries with governance setups just below that of the US. My results are consistent with both the 'flight to quality' and 'familiarity' arguments, and help reconcile prior contradictory empirical evidence. At the firm level, I present unequivocal evidence in favour of the familiarity argument. FII domiciled in countries with high governance quality prefer to invest in US firms with high corporate governance quality. In the third chapter, I investigate the impact of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) on foreign institutional investment in the United States. I find that, post-SOX, FII increase their equity holdings in US listed firms. This result is mainly driven by passive, non-monitoring FII, who have the most to gain from the SOX-led reduction in firm information asymmetry, and the consequent reduction in the value of private information. The enactment of SOX appears to have changed the firm-level investment preferences of FII towards firms that would not be their traditional investment targets based on prudent man rules, e.g., smaller and riskier firms. In contrast to the extant literature, which mostly documents a negative SOX effect for the US markets, my chapter provides evidence of a positive SOX effect, namely the increase in foreign investment.In the fourth chapter, I examine the effect of SOX on the relation between firm innovation and institutional ownership. I find that US firms investing in innovation attract more institutional capital post-SOX. Prior literature highlights two SOX effects that could cause this result: a decreased level of information asymmetry (direct effect) and increased market liquidity (indirect effect). My findings support the direct effect, as I find that the positive relation between innovation and institutional ownership is driven by passive and dedicated institutional investors. A reduction in firms' information asymmetry is beneficial for these investors while they gain less from increased market liquidity. Overall, my results indicate that SOX is an important policy that has strengthened the institutional investor's support for firm innovation.
- Institutional Investment, Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Innovation