A Trojan Horse for corporate change: A sociological examination of shareholder activists' ability to moderate the profit motive

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Resistance to the corporate pursuit of profit takes many forms, but ths thesis examines the effectiveness of shareholders (owners of the corporation and beneficiaries of profit) in challengmg the corporate belief that profit should prevail over non-financial concerns. Shareholders are privileged due of their location within corporate structure and large shareholders are especially privileged. Using secondary sources (shareholder resolutions plus newspaper articles) and informed by Gramsci's notion of hegemony, ths thesis examines the shareholders' discourse within the context of the legal environment. The legal environment is significant because it shapes the shareholder's discourse, influences the engagement process and supports the dominant hegemony. Though Canadan legal changes in 2001 provided shareholders with more rights, shareholders remain conservative when engagmg companies. Yet, despite a hegemony that constrains shareholders and despite voluntarily operating withn the hegemonic discourse, shareholder engagement can be effective in makmg corporations consider their social or environmental responsibrlity.

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Department of Sociology and Anthropology - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)