Saturday, 22 February 2014

Exploring Post-crisis Trajectories of European Corporate Governance

A number of interesting articles just published in the Journal of Law and Society (based on presentations at a workshop at Leeds University). My paper, co-authored with my colleague Jonathan Mukwiri, has the title ‘The Financial Crisis: A Reason to Improve Shareholder Protection in the EU?’, and the abstract reads as follows:
The global financial crisis of 2008 has stimulated the debate on corporate governance and shareholder protection. The intuitive reason for the topicality of shareholder protection is that insolvencies mainly harm shareholders as the companies' residual claimants. In addition, ideally, shareholder empowerment may ensure better monitoring of management and therefore better-run companies preventing corporate failures and benefiting the economy as a whole. Yet, it is not self-evident that shareholder participation has such a positive effect. This article critically examines the discussion about the relationship between the financial crisis, shareholder protection, and law reform. We also develop a central position: while there may be a need to improve shareholder protection, we do not take the view that any increase in shareholder rights is the right way forward; rather, such reforms should aim to encourage shareholder engagement by responsible long-term investors.
The working paper version is also available on SSRN.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Assessment of Research in Law (conference)
I just return from a conference in Geneva on this topic. The programme is available at the conference website. I think that most papers will be published in a book; yet, actually, I won’t submit my one. My paper dealt with the RAE 2008, in particular the question of whether it favoured or suppressed particular types of legal research. My slides are available on Slideshare (and as readers of this blog know, they are based on my previous blog posts on this topic). Once the REF 2014 results are fully published (ie in a year’s time or so), I may look at those data and then write a proper paper dealing with both the RAE 2008 and REF 2014 law submissions/results (time permitting, of course).

Saturday, 8 February 2014

A Network-Based Taxonomy of the World’s Legal Systems (Working Paper, January 2014)

New working paper available here. The figure is from this paper (click to enlarge), and the abstract reads as follows:

Legal scholars, economists and other social scientist often refer to the idea that countries can be classified into a number of “legal families” or “legal origins”. Yet, this research is unsatisfactory as regards the actual classifications of the legal systems of the world. Thus, it is the aim of this paper to develop a new taxonomy of legal systems. This taxonomy is based on a new dataset of 157 countries that is subsequently analysed with tools of network analysis. In particular, this paper suggests that the world’s legal systems can be divided into the four clusters of “the Good Old Common Law”, “the Modern European Legal Culture”, “the Authoritarian Core”, and “the Weak Law in Transition”. This has important implications, not only for our understanding of the legal world, but also for questions of harmonisation and legal transplants.

Monday, 3 February 2014

What explains the increase of religious extremism?

It seems to be the case that we can observe a recent increase of religious extremism (see eg Torkel Brekke’s excellent book and, with some reluctance, let’s also cite Tony Blair’s comment). Emotionally, I admit that I don’t ‘get it’ why this happens: thus, similar to my Euroscepticism post, let’s at least try to understand possible causal factors. For example, one could use cross-country time series data on religious attitudes (eg, from the various value surveys) as dependent variable. Then, the following explanatory variables may be tested (of course, checking for endogeneity):
  • explicit or implicit discrimination (ie backlash)
  • segregation of communities (linked to urbanisation?)
  • religious identities proxies for other differences (economic, linguistic, ethnic etc)
  • funding of radical ideologies by wealthy states or individuals (also through education, media etc)
  • politisation of religion (in particular, linkages to international conflicts)
  • facilitation of international networks (new media etc)
  • ineffective state institutions (ie fills power vacuum)
  • reluctance of state and society to oppose extremism (due to fear of phobias etc)
  • moderates sidelined (ie only most radical variant regarded as the ‘true religion’)
Assuming that some (or most) of these factors play a role, the next question would be to identify the trajectory, ie will the increase continue or not. Of course, there is also the policy dimension, ie if we want to aim for a decrease, whether state and society can influence these factors.