ECGI Announces Prizes for Papers on ‘Nationalism’ and ‘Activism’

ECGI Announces Prizes for Papers on ‘Nationalism’ and ‘Activism’

April 21 2020

BRUSSELS – 24 April 2020. The European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) is delighted to announce the winners of the best papers in the Working Paper Finance and Law Series’ published in 2019.

The 2020 Aberdeen Standard Investments Prize of EUR 5,000 has been awarded to Alon Brav (Duke University and ECGI), Wei Jiang (Columbia University and ECGI), Tao Li (University of Florida), James Pinnington (Duke University)  for their paper on:  “Picking Friends Before Picking (Proxy) Fights: How Mutual Fund Voting Shapes Proxy Contests” (ECGI Finance Working Paper 601/2019).

The paper provides a very relevant contribution to the relative influence and voting behaviour of passive versus active funds. It finds that firm, fund, and event characteristics generate substantial heterogeneity among investors in their support for the dissident, including their reliance on proxy advisors. Notably, that active funds are significantly more pro-dissident than passive funds.

The 2020 Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton Prize for the Best Paper in the ECGI Law Working Paper Series has been awarded to Mariana Pargendler (FGV Law School in São Paulo and ECGI) for her paper: “The Grip of Nationalism on Corporate Law” (ECGI Law Working Paper 437/2019).

The paper argues that nationalist influence on corporate law is old, widespread, and resilient, such that corporate law has been used as a stealth mechanism for protectionism. It shows that nationalism has left an imprint on the most important features of the governance landscape, ranging from ownership structures and takeover defenses to choice of law and investor protection. Protectionist objectives, rather than the agency cost considerations that dominate the literature, are the proximate cause of corporate reforms with surprising frequency.

Referring to the awards, Professor Marco Becht, ECGI Executive Director said “The Working Paper prizes exemplify the high standard of research being produced by ECGI research members and fellows worldwide. They are providing evidence and theory, without bias or agenda, to otherwise unproven claims in real world situations. ECGI congratulates the 2020 winners and thanks the sponsors, Aberdeen Standard Investments and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton for their continued support of the series.”







Elaine McPartlan

General Manager


Professor Marco Becht

Executive Director




About the European Corporate Governance Institute

The ECGI is an international scientific non-profit association which provides a forum for debate and dialogue focusing on major corporate governance issues and thereby promoting best practice. It is the home for all those with an interest in corporate governance offering membership categories for academics, practitioners, patrons and institutions.

Its primary role is to undertake, commission and disseminate research on corporate governance. Based upon impartial and objective research and the collective knowledge and wisdom of its members, it can advise on the formulation of corporate governance policy and development of best practice. In seeking to achieve the aim of improving corporate governance, ECGI acts as a focal point for academics working on corporate governance in Europe and elsewhere, encouraging the interaction between the different disciplines, such as economics, law, finance and management.


About the ECGI Working Paper Series

The primary purpose of the two series (Law and Finance) is to publish research papers on corporate governance related topics that are authored or co-authored by ECGI Research Members i.e. those who have been elected as ECGI Fellows or nominated as ECGI Research Associates.

The series editors generally apply a broad definition of corporate governance and also include papers on the interface between corporate governance and other areas, or papers of which only a part touches on corporate governance. However, papers in other areas whose relevance for corporate governance is only indirect or methodological are not included. A list of past winners is available here.


About Aberdeen Standard Investments

Standard Life Aberdeen plc is one of the world’s largest investment companies, created in 2017 from the merger of Standard Life plc and Aberdeen Asset Management PLC. Operating under the brand Aberdeen Standard Investments, the investment arm manages £525.7bn, €587.6bn, $669.1bn* of assets. It has a significant global presence and the scale and expertise to help clients meet their investment goals. As a leading global asset manager, Aberdeen Standard Investments is dedicated to creating long-term value for clients. 

*As at 30 June 2019, Source: Aberdeen Standard Investments


About Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP

Founded in 1946, Cleary Gottlieb has grown to over 1,200 lawyers from more than 50 countries, working across practices, industries, jurisdictions, and continents to provide clients with simple, actionable approaches to their most complex legal and business challenges.

We support every client relationship with intellectual agility, commercial acumen, and a human touch. We have a proven track record for serving with innovation. We are fluent in the many languages of local and global business. And we have achieved consistent success in multiple jurisdictions.

Global corporations, financial institutions, sovereign governments, local businesses, and individuals come to us for consistently practical and forward-looking advice.


The finance jury was composed of: 

Professor Ernst Maug
(outgoing) Editor of the ECGI Finance Working Paper Series
Professor for Corporate Finance, Mannheim Business School, University of Mannheim

Professor Franklin Allen
Professor of Finance and Economics and Executive Director of the Brevan Howard Centre at Imperial College London

Professor Julian Franks
Professor of Finance, London Business School

Professor Marco Pagano
Professor of Economics, Facoltà di Economia, Università di Napoli Federico II

Professor Xavier Vives
Professor of Economics and Financial Management , IESE Business School, University of Navarra

Professor Luigi Zingales
Robert C. McCormack Professor Entrepreneurship & Finance, University of Chicago, Booth School of Business


The law jury was composed of: 

Professor Amir Licht
Editor of the ECGI Law Working Paper Series
Professor of Law, Radzyner School of Law, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya

Professor Dr Horst Eidenmüller
Freshfields Professor of Commercial Law, University of Oxford

Professor Martin Gelter
Professor of Law, Fordham University School of Law

Professor Genevieve Helleringer
Professor of Law, ESSEC Business School and Oxford Law Faculty

Professor Curtis J. Milhaupt
Professor of Law, Stanford Law School

Professor Niamh Moloney
Professor of Law, Law Department, London School of Economics