Corporate Sustainability and Shareholder Activism in the Netherlands
In Beate Sjåfjell and Christopher M. Bruner (eds), Cambridge Handbook of Corporate Law, Corporate Governance and Sustainability (Cambridge University Press,2019), Chapter 19.
Posted: 8 May 2019 Last revised: 15 Jun 2020
Date Written: May 6, 2019
The involvement of companies is key for a sustainable society, but it is debated whether shareholders can stimulate the achievement of corporate sustainability goals. We investigate shareholder sustainability engagement in the Netherlands. First, we present the Dutch corporate law framework in a sustainability context. Dutch corporate law can generally be considered stakeholder-oriented. Afterwards, we present a novel empirical analysis of shareholder corporate sustainability engagement in the Netherlands using Dutch annual general meeting transcripts. We find that, although shareholders do not make use of their right to add proposals to the agenda to advocate corporate sustainability, shareholders do in fact use their right to ask questions. Our findings provide new indications that, in addition to the pivotal role of corporate boards, shareholders may be increasingly willing to play a positive role in corporate sustainability.
Keywords: AGM, shareholder activism, stakeholder model
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