Title: Shareholder engagement: prospects for improving corporate social responsibility

Authors: Peter Southwood

Addresses: Pensions & Investment Research Consultants Limited (PIRC), Cityside, 40 Adler Street, London, E1 1EE, UK

Abstract: This paper is based on research into four case studies of shareholder engagement on issues of socially responsible investment. The background to the wider study of which it forms a part is explained before the main contours of the debate on shareholder activism, in theory and practice, are outlined. The point of departure of this paper from the earlier study is the illustration of how the framework, derived from the case studies, could be applied to resolve future conflicts of interest. The focus of the analysis is on the dynamics of shareholder engagement involving the complex interplay between the balance of reason and the balance of power on issues of corporate social responsibility. The thesis is postulated that, contrary to appearances in situations of conflict, the decisive long-term factor for sustainable business performance is the rationality of the proposal in question rather than the power of shareholders to enforce it.

Keywords: shareholder engagement; corporate social responsibility; socially responsible investment; corporate governance.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBPM.2003.003252

International Journal of Business Performance Management, 2003 Vol.5 No.2/3, pp.223 - 236

Published online: 05 Aug 2003 *

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