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Article

Access_open Corporate Social Responsibility via Shareholders’ Proposals

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 1 2015
Keywords corporate social responsibility, shareholders, Rule 14a-8, social proposals, strategy
Authors Maria Paz Godoy Uson
AbstractAuthor's information

    Can shareholders’ proposals be considered as a mainstream alternative to incorporate social and environmental policies into the core businesses strategy? Proposing non-financial resolutions at the general meeting of shareholders is a form of shareholders’ activism that is shaping company’s direction. The American court case Lovenheim v. Iroquois Brands, Ltd. confirms that social and environmental issues, when significantly related to the core business, can give rise to new business directions firmly promoted by shareholders, resting authorial power to the board of directors in conducting the company’s direction. The US SEC Rule 14a-8 is widely used by social activists and institutional investors to influence the direction of business in becoming more sustainable. In virtue of the American Rule 14a-8, shareholders may include proposals in the company’s proxy materials and, thereby, compel a vote on the issue at the annual shareholders’ meeting. The result is that American shareholders’ proposals are being considered as an effective gateway to improve corporations’ social and environmental behaviour. This article examines, from a comparative perspective, the further developments of shareholders’ social proposals with the attempt to incorporate social and environmental policies into the core business. The article also suggests that the increasing demand of social proposals promoted by American shareholders versus the limited activity of shareholders’ proposals in Continental European jurisdictions is precipitating the process of converge between the main corporate governance models; the shareholder-oriented model and the stakeholder-oriented model, respectively. The issue of CSR via shareholders’ proposals as presented here is primarily based on literature and various cases related to SEC 14a-8, more in particular on lessons drawn from Lovenheim v. Iroquois Brands, Ltd.


Maria Paz Godoy Uson
PhD Fellow Maastricht University.
Article

EU Corporate Governance

The Ongoing Challenges of the ‘Institutional Investor Activism’ Conundrum

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2014
Keywords EU corporate governance, institutional investors, stewardship, shareholders, asset managers
Authors Konstantinos Sergakis
AbstractAuthor's information

    Institutional investor activism seems to be the ultimate means for steady improvement in corporate governance standards, as well as a powerful tool for refocusing short-term strategies towards more sustainable and viable business projects. Although EU institutions have endeavoured over the past decade to facilitate the exercise of a wide range of shareholder rights, the impact of such regulatory initiatives remains to be seen. This paper challenges the current EU regulatory approach by supporting the idea that, while it has touched upon important topics, such as companies or financial intermediaries, hoping that the investor community will make full use of its discretion and evaluation of these actors, it has avoided resolving another crucial issue, namely, that of investor behaviour. In fact, institutional investors have been partially accused of apathy and contributing indirectly to the EU capital markets crisis. EU law thus needs to find new ways to nurture and maintain an effective willingness to engage in long-term dialogue with companies. It is therefore crucial to reassess all EU initiatives and critically challenge their efficiency in order to propose a way forward to unblock institutional investor activism and establish a veritable alignment of objectives with corporate managers.


Konstantinos Sergakis
Lecturer in Law, University of Bristol. The author is very grateful to Professor Charlotte Villiers for her valuable comments at the early stages of this article. The usual disclaimer applies.
Article

Access_open Corporate Governance and the Great Recession

An Alternative Explanation for Germany's Success in the Post-2008 World

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 1 2014
Keywords Great Recession, Germany, corporate governance, institutional complementarity, EMU
Authors Pavlos E. Masouros
AbstractAuthor's information

    The ability of a nation to resist a crisis depends on the institutional or spatio-temporal fixes it possesses, which can buffer the effects of the crisis, switch the crisis to other nations or defer its effects to the future. Corporate governance configurations in a given country can function as institutional or spatio-temporal fixes provided they are positioned within an appropriate institutional environment that can give rise to beneficial complementarities.
    Germany seems to resist most effectively compared with other nations (be it nations of the insider or the outsider model of corporate governance) the effects of the post-2008 crisis. This article posits that this is due to an institutional complementarity between Germany's corporate governance system, its system of industrial relations and the monetary institutions of the European Monetary Union. The advent of shareholder value has blended in a beneficial way with an established system of cooperative collective bargaining, with traditional stakeholderist institutions, but also with the asymmetrical design of the EMU that benefits trade surplus countries, and this institutional complementarity has endowed Germany with a comparative advantage over other nations (particularly EU Member States) to pursue its export-led growth strategy and emerge as a champion economy amidst the crisis.


Pavlos E. Masouros
Assistant Professor of Corporate Law, Leiden University, The Netherlands; Attorney-at-Law, Athens, Greece.
Article

Access_open An Eclectic Approach to Loyalty-Promoting Instruments in Corporate Law: Revisiting Hirschman's Model of Exit, Voice, and Loyalty

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2013
Keywords Eclecticism, corporate law & economics, corporate constitutionalism, loyalty-promoting instruments
Authors Bart Bootsma MSc LLM
AbstractAuthor's information

    This essay analyses the shareholder role in corporate governance in terms of Albert Hirschman's Exit, Voice, and Loyalty. The term 'exit' is embedded in a law & economics framework, while 'voice' relates to a corporate constitutional framework. The essay takes an eclectic approach and argues that, in order to understand the shareholder role in its full breadth and depth, the corporate law & economics framework can 'share the analytical stage' with a corporate constitutional framework. It is argued that Hirschman's concept of 'loyalty' is the connecting link between the corporate law & economics and corporate constitutional framework. Corporate law is perceived as a Janus head, as it is influenced by corporate law & economics as well as by corporate constitutional considerations. In the discussion on the shareholder role in public corporations, it is debated whether corporate law should facilitate loyalty-promoting instruments, such as loyalty dividend and loyalty warrants. In this essay, these instruments are analysed based on the eclectic approach. It is argued that loyalty dividend and warrants are law & economics instruments (i.e. financial incentives) based on corporate constitutional motives (i.e. promoting loyalty in order to change the exit/voice mix in favour of voice).


Bart Bootsma MSc LLM
PhD candidate in the corporate law department at Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam. Email: bootsma@law.eur.nl. The research for this article has been supported by a grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) in the Open Competition in the Social Sciences 2010. The author is grateful to Ellen Hey, Klaus Heine, Michael Faure, Matthijs de Jongh and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions. The usual disclaimer applies.
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