Unpacking the Roles of Shareholder Engagement Intermediaries: A Case Study of an Engagement Process on Carbon Risk

Posted: 9 Aug 2019

See all articles by Jean-Pascal Gond

Jean-Pascal Gond

Cass Business School

Emma Sjöström

Stockholm School of Economics

Date Written: April 13, 2019

Abstract

Many institutional investors are spending considerable resources on engaging with companies on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues through dialogue, to promote the adoption of enhanced sustainability practice and reporting. At the same time, little is known about the roles played by intermediary organizations to which such engagement is often delegated, nor about how the use of an intermediary may shape the engagement process. To address this question, we conducted a qualitative case study of a three-year thematic engagement project on carbon risk focused on twenty energy companies and conducted by a single manager at one intermediary organization. Relying on a unique archival access capturing the log of dialogues between an engagement intermediary and twenty multinational corporations (MNCs) and supporting interviews, we identify and conceptualize four roles performed by engagement intermediaries to elicit companies’ responses: business diplomats, communication managers, soft regulators, and free sustainability coach and consultant. Our results highlight how these roles are mobilized through the engagement process in ways that help manage saliency in practice to enhance the impact of engagement on companies.

Keywords: ESG, engagement, social practice, occupational roles, carbon risk

JEL Classification: M14, G15, G23

Suggested Citation

Gond, Jean-Pascal and Sjöström, Emma, Unpacking the Roles of Shareholder Engagement Intermediaries: A Case Study of an Engagement Process on Carbon Risk (April 13, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3433340 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3433340

Jean-Pascal Gond

Cass Business School ( email )

106 Bunhill Row
London, EC1Y 8TZ
United Kingdom

Emma Sjöström (Contact Author)

Stockholm School of Economics ( email )

PO Box 6501
Stockholm, 11383
Sweden

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