The Role of Stock Exchanges in Shaping More Sustainable Company and Market Practices
139 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2013 Last revised: 25 Sep 2014
Date Written: September 12, 2013
Recent years have seen the emergence of stock exchange led initiatives which in various ways aim to enhance awareness and performance by listed companies and investors regarding environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. This thesis explores issues of importance to understand the role of stock exchanges in promoting more sustainable company and market practices. First, the thesis establishes rationales for increased efforts by stock exchanges in this area by investigating the agenda of responsible investment and the debate about market dysfunctionalites which has intensified after the financial crisis. Second, the role, functions and institutional characteristics of stock exchanges are researched. The insights from these investigations are fed into a new framework designed to assess the potential stock exchanges have to contribute to more sustainable company and market practices, as well as impediments and enablers for this to happen. The findings suggest that stock exchanges have potential to make a positive impact on sustainability related matters, but are likely to face constraints. Realizing this, the thesis concludes that a case can be argued for including to a larger extent sustainability related issues in conventional financial market regulation to ensure long-term financial stability and well-functioning financial markets. However, this raises new questions. Different issues may hamper the effectiveness of such regulation, among others competition between financial centres and jurisdictional limitations of national regulation. This suggests that international standard setting bodies may have an important role to play.
Note: This paper was originally submitted to the University of Oxford for the degree of MSc by Research (2012).
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