Author Archives

Daniel Beunza

Research Findings

Habermas in the boardroom? Evidence from shareholder engagement

July 10, 2019

Can dialogue be established between civil society and corporations on social and environmental questions such as climate change? Our study of shareholder engagement at Ford and General Motors suggests that dialogue is possible and socially-conscious shareholders might be able to drive positive change in corporations on climate change.

We also show that overcoming initial adversarial positions take years and, to use the language of Jürgen Habermas, parties need to shift from strategic action. The strategic action is the instrumental pursuit of individual goals, to communicative action: a form of coordinated action where parties achieve a common definition of the situation. Our study shows how these ideas from German philosophy help explain engagement effectiveness, and understand current events in corporate boardrooms.

Dialogue has become central not only for traditional social movements, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and labor unions, but also for shareholders, who are increasingly active on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issue.

Continue Reading…