Institutional Shareholder Engagement with Japanese Firms

Published in Annals in Social Responsibility
Sustainable & Impact Investing, Corporate Governance & Sustainability

In this paper, Gordon L. Clark and Michael Viehs together with Yukie Saito from the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford explore how shareholder engagement on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues is informally exercised by a large global institutional investor with locally embedded, geographically remote firms. By studying a UK asset manager’s shareholder engagement strategies on ESG issues toward Japanese firms, the authors document three findings. First, it is found that main target firms of engagement activities are large firms with global operations, and that corporate governance issues are the most important engagement topic in Japan. Second, in trying to effectively exercise voice across societies, engagement activities are conducted with geographically remote target firms on various ESG agendas through a self-enforcing, face-to-face, and sometimes collective manner. Finally, this study argues the gap between the asset manager’s motivation to engage and local target firms’ readiness to respond due to corporate organisational and language issues.

This paper is forthcoming in the journal Annals in Social Responsibility.

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