Robert S. Harris

University of Virginia
Darden School of Business
100 Darden Boulevard
Charlottesville, VA 22903

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: University of Virginia

NBER Working Papers and Publications

February 2020Can Investors Time Their Exposure to Private Equity?
with Gregory Brown, Wendy Hu, Tim Jenkinson, Steven N. Kaplan, David T. Robinson: w26755
Private equity performance, both for buyouts and venture capital, has been highly cyclical: periods of high fundraising have been followed by periods of low performance. Despite this seemingly predictable variation, we find modest gains, at best, to pursuing realistic, investable strategies that time capital commitments to private equity. This occurs, in part, because investors can only time their commitments to funds; they cannot time when commitments are called or when investments are exited. There is a high degree of time-series correlation in net cash flows even across commitment strategies that allocate capital in a very different manner over time.

Published: Gregory Brown & Robert Harris & Wendy Hu & Tim Jenkinson & Steve Kaplan & David T. Robinson, 2020. "Can investors time their exposure to private equity?∗," Journal of Financial Economics, .

May 2017Financial Intermediation in Private Equity: How Well Do Funds of Funds Perform?
with Tim Jenkinson, Steven N. Kaplan, Ruediger Stucke: w23428
This paper focuses on funds of funds (FOFs) as a form of financial intermediation in private equity (both buyout and venture capital). After accounting for fees, FOFs provide returns equal to or above public market indices for both buyout and venture capital. While FOFs focusing on buyouts outperform public markets, they underperform direct fund investment strategies in buyout. In contrast, the average performance of FOFs in venture capital is on a par with results from direct venture fund investing. This suggests that FOFs in venture capital (but not in buyouts) are able to identify and access superior performing funds.

Published: Robert S. Harris & Tim Jenkinson & Steven N. Kaplan & Ruediger Stucke, 2018. "Financial Intermediation in Private Equity: How Well Do Funds of Funds Perform?," Journal of Financial Economics, . citation courtesy of

February 2012Private Equity Performance: What Do We Know?
with Tim Jenkinson, Steven N. Kaplan: w17874
We present evidence on the performance of nearly 1400 U.S. private equity (buyout and venture capital) funds using a new research-quality dataset from Burgiss, sourced from over 200 institutional investors. Using detailed cash-flow data, we compare buyout and venture capital returns to the returns produced by public markets. We also compare the evidence from Burgiss to that derived from other commercial datasets - Venture Economics, Preqin and Cambridge Associates - as well as recent research. We find better buyout fund performance than has previously been documented. This in part reflects recently discovered problems with data provided by Venture Economics, upon which several previous studies had relied. Average U.S. buyout fund performance has exceeded that of public markets for most vi...

Private Equity Performance: What Do We Know?” with Robert Harris and Tim Jenkinson, Journal of Finance, forthcoming. citation courtesy of

December 1987Means of Payment in Takeovers: Results for the U.K. and U.S.
with Julian Franks, Colin Mayer: w2456
This paper examines means of payment in over 2,500 acquisitions in the UK and US over the period 1955 to 1985. Data on financing proportions, bid premia and postmerger performance are used to test the validity of tax and information hypotheses. It is difficult to explain many of the results in terms of tax effects. Capital gains tax does not appear to be a primary determinant of financing patterns in the UK in a period in which there were substantial variations in the tax rate. As well the tax motivated "trapped equity" model is inconsistent with several observations on financing patterns. In both countries much larger acquiree bid premia are associated with cash than equity bids, consistent with information models suggesting that high valuing bidders make cash offers and low valuing bidde...
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