Activist Hedge Funds: Good for Some, Bad for Others?
Recent news cast some doubts about the effects of shareholder activism on firms’ strategic orientation. Hence, the question: Do activist hedge funds help or harm the companies they target? Mark DesJardine of Pennsylvania State University’s Smeal College of Business and Rodolphe Durand of HEC Paris (members of the HEC’s Society & Organizations Institute) investigated the long-term effects of hedge fund activism on companies that get targeted by these activists. In their extensive research, they found the value of targeted companies spikes the first year after targeting but drops in later years relative to similar non-targeted companies. In addition, the authors found that being targeted by activist hedge funds put a halt to the broader investment portfolios and socially responsible efforts of companies.
Why Activist Hedge Funds Target Socially Responsible Firms, and How Executives and Investors Can Counteract Them
Danone’s CEO had to leave his position under the pressure of increasingly powerful and influential activist hedge funds. With their controversial tactics aimed at maximizing shareholder profit, they undermine sustainability practices, which they consider wasteful. Indeed, not only do they tend to suppress the corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities of the companies they target, they also target companies with stronger CSR records in the first place, as a new study reveals. But its authors Mark DesJardine, Rodolphe Durand, and Emilio Marti also show that these companies can divert the attention of activist hedge funds, and that policymakers and socially minded investors can intervene, too.
Supply Chain Management: a Critical Role in the New Normal that is too often Forgotten
While the Covid-19 reveals the criticality of the role of Supply Chain Management in an organization, HEC Paris Adjunct Professor Michel Fender provides a clear understanding of the major stakes related to Supply Chain Management, and shares his opinion about its critical role that is usually considered during a crisis only, when it is too late.
The Taboos and Ambiguities of the Prevailing Narrative on Corporate Social Responsibility
In an article published this month in the journal Business & Society1, Aurélien Feix, research fellow at HEC, and Déborah Philippe, HEC alumna and professor at the University of Lausanne, analyze narratives that promote voluntary Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practices as a privileged means to combat social inequality and environmental degradation. In view of the similarities that exist between these narratives, the authors argue that they must be conceived of as variants of one and the same “metanarrative of CSR”. They show that this metanarrative stays ambivalent about crucially important questions, including that of the results that can realistically be expected from activities performed voluntarily by business firms that are bound by profitability constraints, and subjected to the capitalist growth imperative. Therefore, they call for challenging the comforting, but largely inconsequential, rhetoric of the metanarrative of CSR.
The Role of Marketing in Climate Change: Carbon Footprinting and Pricing
The potential impact of climate change raises concerns with consumers and governments throughout the world. Dealing with these climate concerns is key to the survival of businesses in the marketplace, and ultimately the survival of the planet. Daniel Halbheer, Associate Professor of Marketing at HEC Paris, shares his and his co-authors' research findings on the role of marketing decisions in addressing climate change when juggling the pressures of consumers and governments, through tools such as carbon footprinting and pricing.
Auditors Offering Both CSR Assurance and Financial Auditing Could be Best Option
With shareholders and stakeholders becoming more and more concerned with firms’ corporate social responsibility (CSR), audit firms now provide CSR assurance services for sustainability reports. As such, firms wonder whether it is more beneficial to use a financial audit firm that also provides CSR assurance, or to hire a different CSR assurance provider than the financial auditor. Researchers explain why the first option is the best option for firms.
Walking the Talk: Why Companies Should be Politically Transparent
More and more companies flaunt their policies regarding social or environmental sustainability. However, these same companies may promote policies that contradict their stated CSR objectives through their political actions. Enough is enough, says a group of top researchers (including Rodolphe Durand and Magali Delmas) arguing for political transparency in a paper that won the California Management Review’s Best Article Award 2019.
The Rise of Rankings in Global Governance: How Can They Change the Regulation of Large Corporations?
Ratings and rankings have become powerful tools in global governance, frequently used to motivate companies to be good corporate citizens. A wide range of environmental and social matters such as access to medicine, climate change, obesity and working conditions increasingly transcend national borders and escape the reach of national regulators. For such issues, who should set the rules about the responsibilities of corporations? How can corporations that are by definition designed to generate profit, be guided towards making decisions that benefit society as a whole? Afshin Mehrpouya and Rita Samiolo explore the process behind the production of these rankings.
How Experimentations Help Innovation Ecosystems Emerge: the Case of the Hydrogen Energy
Major advances in complex technologies require the cooperation of a broad range of parties – a whole business ecosystem. Professors Sihem Ben Mahmoud-Jouini (HEC Paris) and Florence Charue-Duboc (Ecole Polytechnique Paris) studied the case of the nascent hydrogen energy ecosystem to investigate how experimentation contribute to the emergence and consolidation of the ecosystem itself, and the characteristics of such experimentation.
Jean-Michel Gauthier: from the Oil Industry to the Energy Transition
Jean-Michel Gauthier began his career in the oil industry before switching to consulting. Having spent a total of 30 years in international energy, he now shares his expertise by training leaders from all sectors in energy-transition issues. Jean-Michel is affiliate professor in the finance department at HEC Paris, where he holds the Energy & Finance Chair sponsored by Société Générale.