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Future of the Corporation Research - Ownership

What constitutes a responsible and ethical approach to business? Financial institutions are thought to lie at the heart of the failure of the financial system to promote responsible business but ownership of companies differs appreciably across the world, and some countries appear to be more affected by inadequate investor engagement than others. Is this correct? Should more engaged long-term investment by institutions be encouraged? What can be done to encourage this? What is the evidence on the way in which institutional investors engage with their corporate investments and what can be learnt from cases of success and failure? Are other forms of ownership, for example, families and foundations, likely to be more successful at building sustainable and ethical businesses? What are the benefits of mixed-ownership models such as family-owned or social enterprises to the corporate sector and what does history tell us about the impact of mixed-model businesses on economies across the world? How do the variety of ownership forms relate to sustainable business and does this matter?

What impact does ownership have on building sustainable and responsible businesses?

Lead Researcher(s) Institution
Professor Belén Villalonga NYU Stern School of Business

The research will first examine the range of ways in which for-profit companies can create shared value for a broad range of stakeholders, from incorporating corporate social responsibility practices to their existing strategy to having a social purpose embedded in their business model by design since the company’s inception. It will consider different categories of owners of corporations (and other legal forms of organization) around the world, how much equity they own and control on average (by country and/or industry) and how they own and control those companies. Finally, it will look into established empirical relations between owner types and sustainable / responsible business models or strategies. The second part of the project will be a descriptive empirical study of the relation between the various owner types and shared value creation in US publicly listed corporations between 1994 and 2016. These ownership data will then be matched to existing data (available publicly or privately) about firms’ environmentally and socially responsible behaviours to estimate statistically the relation between owner types and these behaviours.

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