Can shareholder advocacy shape energy governance? The case of the US antifracking movement
Research on socially responsible investing (SRI) and investor-led governance, especially in the climate sector, suggests that shareholders adopt social movement tactics to influence corporate governance, including building networks, engaging directly with corporations and lobbying regulators. Further, research on corporate transparency and financial disclosure has proliferated, notably in the extractives sector. Our work builds on these existing literatures, with a focus on shareholder resolutions on hydraulic fracturing (HF) in the United States. We analyze US HF-focused shareholder resolutions from 2010 to 2016 to evaluate filing strategies and outcomes. We argue that these resolutions provide space for a range of new actors to shape corporate governance—but their power is constrained. The constraints flow from the same political economy factors that enable shareholders to take collective action: the distance between individual investors and financial decisions; the structure of resolutions and managerial responses; and the complexity of investment vehicles and vote shares. We assess how shareholders respond strategically by altering the focus of resolution demands, liaising with external campaigns and networks, and engaging with government to enhance regulatory interventions. Our work reveals how the upstreaming of power in commodity chains intersects with the power of management boards and the challenges of financialization, with consequences for corporate and energy governance.
Neville, KJ; Cook, J; Baka, J; Bakker, K; Weinthal, ES
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