Shareholder voice on executive pay: A decade of Dutch say on pay

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    The Netherlands adopted shareholders’ say on pay over a decade ago. The general meeting of shareholders must approve the remuneration policy and any amendments to it. This Dutch approach offers fruitful insights into how say on pay works in practice. In the light of the recent European proposal to introduce a uniform say on pay, we examine the merits of the Dutch system. First, we describe the legal framework of the Dutch say on pay and its background. Then, using hand-collected voting data, information from the minutes of general meetings and ownership data for the entire Dutch say on pay period (2004–2014), we address and discuss both its direct and its indirect effects. Our study shows that, although remuneration proposals are seldom rejected, the influence of shareholders on the remuneration policy of the company is considerable. Furthermore, the Dutch approach to say on pay stimulates shareholders’ dialogue and increases pressure on boards regarding remuneration matters, even in the presence of large insider shareholders.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)51-83
    Number of pages33
    JournalEuropean Business Organization Law Review
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


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