University of Edinburgh Business School
Professor Bill Rees and Dr Tatiana Rodionova win 2015 CGIR Journal Best Paper Award
July 6, 2016

We are delighted to announce that Professor Bill Rees and SBI’s Deputy Director, Dr Tatiana Rodionova, have been awarded the prestigious Corporate Governance: An International Review (CGIR) Journal 2015 Best Paper of the Year Award.

The CGIR runs an annual competition and reviews all submitted and published journals. Out of the 432 submitted and 24 articles published in 2015, only 11 were nominated for shortlisting for the top prize. After the careful study of these 11 papers by the CGIR Journal’s international academic panel, the paper ‘The Influence of Family Ownership on Corporate Social Responsibility: An International Analysis of Publicly Listed Companies’, by Professor Rees and Dr Rodionova, was selected as the best in Volume 23. It was deemed to have the most rigor and be the most relevant to international corporate governance issues. It makes a great contribution to advance the current field of literature on the subject.


The abstract for Professor Rees and Dr Rodionova’s paper is as follows:

Research Question/Issue

We investigate the impact of family equity holdings on three indicators of corporate social responsibility: environmental, social, and governance (ESG) rankings. We further evaluate how firm governance mediates the effect of family ownership on environmental and social improvements and how national governance systems influence the response of family holdings to ESG.

Research Findings/Insights

Based on a sample of 23,902 firm-year observations drawn from 2002 to 2012 covering 46 countries and 3,893 firms, our findings show that both closely held equity and family ownership are negatively associated with ESG performance. When we control for governance, closely held equity is no longer associated with environmental and social rankings, but family ownership retains a significant negative association. These results are strong and consistent across liberal market economies (LME), whereas coordinated market economies (CME) exhibit generally weaker results and considerable diversity. Japan stands out as different from the other countries examined in depth.

Theoretical/Academic Implications

Our results are consistent with agency relationships driving decisions concerning ESG commitment in LMEs. They also emphasize the role of institutional differences given the weak and variable association between ownership and ESG in CMEs. We show that families may be able to influence decisions, possibly through participation in management, despite normally effective governance constraints. As the impact of ownership and governance varies across economies and ownership type, this implies that both agency and governance should be evaluated in the context of the economic environment.

Practitioner/Policy Implications

Our results offer insights to regulators and policy makers who intend to improve ESG performance. The results suggest that encouraging diversified ownership is particularly important in LMEs, that improvements in governance may benefit social and environmental performance where equity is closely held by institutions, but that governance may be less effective in the presence of family ownership.

Further information

View the publication on Edinburgh Research Explorer

View Tatiana’s SBI profile and other publications