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Article

Access_open The Norm of Integrity in Corporate Governance Codes: Could It Be Made Enforceable?

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 2 2015
Keywords corporate governance, integrity, legal strategies, Goldman Sachs
Authors B.T.M. Steins Bisschop
AbstractAuthor's information

    The faring of Goldman Sachs during the financial crisis of 2008 is discussed against the background of legal instruments that were employed to avoid its failure. This discussion leads to the conclusion that in this case, the limits of classical legal instruments were reached. To further good corporate governance, the legal relevance of the term ‘integrity’ is explored. It is concluded that the legal term of integrity is used universally in corporate governance codes, but is not operational and therefore not enforceable. An attempt is made to redefine this general principle into a more operational term. This is tested in the case of Goldman Sachs’ executive Jon Winkelried. It is assumed that he has violated the standard of integrity but also that there were no enforceable legal means to sanction his behaviour. The conclusion is that the more operational interpretation of the term integrity could, in this case, have resulted in an enforceable legal instrument to sanction behaviour that is contrary to the norm of integrity. This operational term of integrity could aid in the debate on furthering good corporate governance through enforceable legal strategies.


B.T.M. Steins Bisschop
Prof. Dr. Bas T.M. Steins Bisschop holds a chair Corporate Law and Governance at the Faculty of Law of Maastricht University and a chair Corporate Law at Nyenrode Business University. He is partner of a boutique law firm in The Hague, The Netherlands.
Article

Access_open From Individuals to Organizations: The Puzzle of Organizational Liability in Tort Law

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 2 2015
Keywords organizational liability, tort law, organizational design, organizational wrongdoing, law and economics
Authors Klaus Heine and Kateryna Grabovets
AbstractAuthor's information

    Organizational accidents have two generic sources: individual wrongdoings and organizational failures. Economic analysis of tort law is methodologically based on the “fiction” (Gordon 2013) of a rational individual, from which “simple rules for a complex world” (Epstein 1995) are derived. As a result, organizational wrongdoing boils down to a simple principal-agent problem, neglecting the complexity of organizational reality. We shed more light on organizational factors as a separate trigger of organizational wrongdoing. We take an interdisciplinary perspective on the problem, which challenges traditional economic analysis of tort law with insights drawn from organizational science. Moreover, we demonstrate how tort law and economic analysis can be enriched with these insights.


Klaus Heine
Prof. Dr. Klaus Heine (Corresponding author), Jean Monnet Chair of Economic Analysis of European Law, Erasmus School of Law – RILE, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Burgemeester Oudlaan 50, Room J6-59, Postbus 1738, NL-3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Tel: 0031 (0)10 4082691; Fax: 0031 (0)10 4089191.

Kateryna Grabovets
Dr. Kateryna Grabovets, Rotterdam Business School (RBS), Rotterdam University of​Applied‍ Sci‍ences,‍ Kralingse Zoom 91, Room C3.121, 3063 ND Rotterdam; P.O. Box 25035, 3001 HA Rotterdam, The Netherlands.​Tel:‍ 0031‍ (0)10‍ 7946243. k.a.grabovets@hr.nl
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.
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