Stakeholder Capitalism: The Case For and Against

Stakeholder Capitalism: The Case For and Against

The virtual event was hosted by London Business School’s Centre for Corporate Governance, in partnership with the Program on Corporate Governance, Harvard Law School and ECGI.

About the event

As part of the ECGI’s recent series of events on the topic, this debate by two ECGI Fellows, Alex Edmans (LBS) and Lucian Bebchuk (Harvard Law School) explored in-depth views on stakeholder capitalism, providing an opportunity to gain different perspectives on this widely debated issue. Professor Edmans presented the case for corporate leaders serving goals other than shareholder value, and Professor Bebchuk questioned this approach. They challenged each other on their positions. Gillian Tett (Financial Times) moderated the debate and Q&A.


Alex Edmans, Professor of Finance and Academic Director, Centre for Corporate Governance, London Business School, ECGI Fellow and author of “Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose and Profit”

Lucian Bebchuk, James Barr Ames Professor of Law, Economics, and Finance, and Director of the Program on Corporate Governance, Harvard Law School, ECGI Fellow and co-author of “The Illusory Promise of Corporate Governance” and “For Whom Corporate Leaders Bargain.”


Gillian Tett, Chair of the Editorial Board and Editor-at-Large (US) of the Financial Times, and Co-Founder of FT Moral Money


ECGI Series on Corporate Purpose

Should corporate leaders manage their business for all their stakeholders, or should shareholders’ interests come first?

This has remained the primary question since the Business Roundtable adopted a new statement on the purpose of the corporation declaring its commitment to lead their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders. Many prominent ECGI Fellows and research members have contributed to this dialogue, including Oliver Hart (Harvard University), Luigi Zingales (Chicago Booth School of Business), Colin Mayer (University of Oxford), Edward Rock (NYU Law), Jennifer Hill (Monash University), Jill Fisch (Penn Law), Steven Davidoff Solomon (Berkeley) and others. A conference dedicated to the topic of Corporate Purpose was co-organised by ECGI and hosted by IESE Business School in October 2020. Lucian Bebchuk (Harvard Law School) has presented work that has challenged popular opinion in several forums, including the University of Oxford organised debate with Colin Mayer in June 2020 and most recently, in September 2020, at the Chicago Booth School of Business online event. Alex Edmans (LBS) argued against some of these views at this event which opened an opportunity to elaborate on this engagement in the debate that is now scheduled. Alex has presented his views at many events and forums, having published a book which addresses the subject. This dialogue demonstrates the meaningful contribution of evidenced-based research and expert insight into an otherwise speculative debate. ECGI will continue to collect resources and make them available on the ECGI website. Below are some of the materials currently available. Interested parties will have an opportunity to pose questions to the speakers at the debate on 10th December 2020.

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Sustainability Reporting

Sustainability Reporting

The livestream of this event is available here:

You can download the event programme here

About the event

The IFRS Foundation has launched a public consultation on a global approach to sustainability reporting and on the possible role of the Foundation. They have published a consultation paperStandardisation and comparability of reporting are critical for capital markets, but also for (empirical) research in accounting, law, finance, economics and related disciplines on sustainability.

The European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) and the Impact Economy Foundation organised a workshop to discuss the consultation document. The workshop began with an economic analysis of sustainability reporting. The economic consequences, such as capital market effects and real effects in firm behaviour, were highlighted. Then, the workshop reviewed examples of companies that are already providing sustainability reporting on a voluntary basis, and asked: what are the benefits and costs?

The workshop then moved to panel discussions centred on the consultation questions. High-level policy makers, academics and practitioners discussed the consultation questions. The key issues included: standardisation; mandatory vs voluntary reporting; climate change only or other environmental topics such as biodiversity loss also; and single materiality (impact on company’s financial value) or double materiality (impact on financial value as well as impact of company on social and environmental value). The workshop delivered new insights to the IFRS Foundation on these issues as well as inspiration to academics to pursue research in this emerging area, with sustainability now high on the agenda of governments and companies.

Useful links:

Workshop Registration:

IFRS Consultation document:

All Public Responses to the Consultation:

Joint statement of support from the UK government and financial regulators:

Hans Christensen, Luzi Hail, Christian Leuz (2019) Adoption of CSR and Sustainability Reporting Standards: Economic Analysis and Review

Commentary from BlackRock:

Submission by Federated Hermes

Open letter from Professors at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford:

Article by Bob Eccles & Tim Mohin: We mustn’t miss this crucial moment to create a global Sustainability Standards Board

Article by Richard Barker and Bob Eccles: Investors need to get behind materiality

Article by Bob Eccles and Michael Krzus:

Article by Janine Guillot, CEO, SASB:

Harvard Business Review article “The Future of ESG Is…Accounting?” by Richard Barker, George Serafeim and Bob Eccles

Submission from the UK Financial Conduct Authority:

Statement from Deloitte:

Article by Teresa Ko (IFRS Trustee):

Article by Integrated Reporting:

ESMA response to the IFRS Consultation (16 Dec 2020)

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Trading and Shareholder Democracy

Trading and Shareholder Democracy

The third seminar in the ECGI Spotlight Series took place on 16 November 2020 at 16:00 CET (10:00 EST).

You can download the working paper here.


The authors study shareholder voting in a model in which trading affects the composition of the shareholder base. Trading and voting are complementary, which gives rise to self-fulfilling expectations about proposal acceptance and multiple equilibria. Prices and shareholder welfare can move in opposite directions, so the former may be an invalid proxy for the latter. Increasing liquidity can reduce welfare, because it allows extreme shareholders to gain more weight in voting. Delegating decision-making to the board can improve shareholder value. However, the optimal board is biased, does not represent current shareholders, and may not garner support from the majority of shareholders.

The ECGI Spotlight Series is a global online seminar programme highlighting chosen papers from the ECGI Working Paper Series.


Spotlight Team:
Mike Burkart (Editor) | Miriam Schwartz-Ziv | Amir Licht (Editor) | Tom Vos


Supported by


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