016 Shareholder Duties: A Driver for Transformation and Sustainability in EU Corporate Law

Wednesday, July 12, 2017: 9:00 AM-10:45 AM
Gilbert Scott Conference Room - 251 (University of Glasgow)
Amongst the popular topics in the corporate governance debate, shareholder rights have increasingly been replaced by shareholders’ duties. Yet the idea of shareholders’ duties challenges the traditional economic and legal image in which shareholders are provided with a bundle of rights and the freedom to exercise them in accordance with their individual preferences. The question could be raised as to whether the fundamental basis for the current trend is a moral judgment about shareholders, or more precisely, a perception of shareholders as morally duty-bound towards other parties than just themselves. 

These ideas are rooted in the transformation and sustainability agendas at the EU level, which is the central theme of the CES Glasgow conference in 2017. By looking at corporations and their shareholders, we aim to investigate the nature and consequences of such a moral economy further: beyond market transactions and with a particular focus on corporate organizations. The current trend of discussing shareholders’ duties may well have something to do with the aim of creating a more sustainable economy, and increasing perceived responsible corporate behavior. Another argument in support of shareholders owing duties to society could supposedly be found in their favorable position within corporations, due to the limited liability they enjoy. The question is, however, whether imposing duties on shareholders necessarily translates into moral behavior on the part of corporations, which will contribute towards important societal goals. 

This Session forms part of the 3-year Research project ‘Shareholder Duties’ which was awarded a Grant from the Danish Council for Research.  

Iain Macneil
Discussant :
Iain Macneil
Nudging for Corporate Long-Termism and Sustainability
Florian Möslein, University of Marburg; Karsten Engsig Sørensen, Aarhus University
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