Purpose: This paper aims to be one of the first papers to investigate the relationship between ownership structure and corporate governance, namely the factors that determine institutional investors' investment decisions in emerging markets using Jordanian data. Design/methodology/approach: A panel data analysis is applied to the dataset that includes non-financial Jordanian firms. Findings: The results show that the Jordanian institutional investors consider firms' capital structure, profitability, business risk, asset structure, asset liquidity, growth rates, and firm size when they take their investment decisions. In addition, institutional investors in Jordan prefer to invest in services firms rather than manufacturing firms. Furthermore, the study cannot find any significant relationship between firms' dividend policy and institutional investors. Practical implications: The practical implication of the study is that institutional investors should take under consideration the investigated variables in this study when they take their investment decisions. Originality/value: This study highlights the importance of the institutional investors as the main owners of Jordanian firms, to the legislative authorities to enhance the corporate governance decisions in Jordan.