Notice Board: Random access to banks: Dylan Thomas reports on recent findings in management and finance. Contributions can be sent to him at City University Business School.

CONSUMERS should ensure that they are fully informed of the real costs of the loan and deposit products offered by different banks, according to recent research by Shelagh Heffernan at the City University Business School.

Rankings of banks across a range of criteria - such as price discrimination, average spreads above the London interbank rate and product superiority - suggested little or no correlation.

Some banks are reported to offer 'bargains' and others 'rip-offs'.

There is, furthermore, little evidence to suggest that consumers are paid close to the market rate on deposits or that they pay close to the market level for their loans, according to an article in last December's Journal of Financial Services Research.

MANAGERIAL ownership of companies is largely related to the presence of the founder or involvement by the founder's family, according to a study of 72 US companies.

Research covering a variety of business sectors found that when family involvement in senior management was reduced, the ownership of the shares became more diffuse and managers no longer controlled most of the shares.

In the Journal of Corporate Finance, D J Denis and D K Denis suggest that the attributes of the owners are more important than those of their companies in determining the level of ownership.

Owner-managed firms, for instance, were no different from others in terms of financial performance or conduct.

So it appears that the need to uphold the family's reputation is generally an effective constraint on managerial self- dealing.

Owner-managers seem to be able to obtain private benefits from control without sacrificing the performance of their companies.

THE LARGER the company, the more likely it is to join in technological developments started by others than to generate the technology in the first place, according to a study of strategic technology partnerships.

Research among 346 companies in Europe, the United States and Japan, which was carried out by J Hagedoorn and J Schakenraad and published in the Strategic Management Journal, also revealed that European information technology companies entering into strategic technology alliances are more inclined to attract rather than generate technological knowledge.

On the other hand, their Japanese counterparts are more likely to enter the competition to provide the technology.

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