Since the early 1970s, Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) has grown from a curiosity and niche-market phenomenon in the financial world to become a global movement, which is embraced now in most countries around the world. The paper focuses on the development and practices of SRI in the United States and Europe. The aim is to explore the historical, cultural and political embeddedness of SRI. Based on second sources of information, it offers a comparative analysis of the development and current practices of SRI on both sides of the Atlantic and discusses the future trends for SRI. The paper shows that SRI movements in both regions present some differences in terms of definitions, actors involved, vocabulary and motivations, and strategies implemented. However, they also share a common underlying purpose and seeking similar goals of improving corporations' policies and practices on social and environmental issues. Key words: Socially Responsible Investment, Europe, United States
Mainstream research on boards of directors has been focusing on a direct relationship between board characteristics and firm performance, but up till now the results are inconclusive. Different reasons are put forward to explain this inconsistency, but it can be argued that ‘traditional' board research has been neglecting potential intervening variables. In this paper we present a process-oriented model for board effectiveness by relying on the corporate governance literature and the literature on group effectiveness. We follow the input-process-output approach to extract the significant variables from literature and integrate them into a research framework for studying board effectiveness. In particular, we identify three intervening variables (cohesiveness, debate and conflict norms) which we believe mediate the effects of board characteristics on board performance. The rationale for including these ‘process' variables is the belief that the interactions and relationships among board members determine to a large extent the collective outcomes of the board of directors. In this respect, the model goes beyond the traditional structural attributes of boards of directors to include behavioural or attitudinal measures of board effectiveness. It also highlights the need for a multi-disciplinary approach in empirical research on boards of directors.
Mainstream research on boards of directors has been focusing on a direct relationship between board characteristics and firm performance, but up till now the results are inconclusive. Although these studies revealed interesting and useful insights, little is known about the factors that shape board effectiveness. This paper aims to reduce this gap by exploring the variety of indicators that contribute to the effectiveness of boards. The paper derives from an interview-based investigation among 104 directors of Belgian listed companies. The findings are further elaborated with quantitative data from two written questionnaires, involving directors of non-listed companies and experts in the field of corporate governance. The results point to three major issues. First, there appears to be a gap between a limited number of structural board measures consistently found in literature and the systematic occurrence of a set of behavioural criteria of board effectiveness in the perceptions of (Belgian) directors. Second, the findings suggest that the value of independence may be overemphasized at the cost of the broader issue of diversity. Third, it appears that mainstream board research ignores to a large extent two additional conditions (the information flow and the leadership style of the chairman) under which a board of directors can make an effective contribution to the strategic direction and control of a company. Our findings suggest that the ambiguity found in current research evidence can to some extent be attributed to the ignorance of a wide range of interconnected structural (such as diversity and competence) and behavioural factors (such as trust, attitude, norms and conduct) which actually shape the effectiveness of boards in performing their roles.
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