‘The more the merrier’: What drives (small) shareholder attendance at annual general meetings

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This study investigates an important but under-researched topic in Europe, the small shareholder turnout decision. We assess which factors contribute to (small) shareholder participation using a hand-collected panel dataset with information about turnout rates, voting behaviour, and ownership structures of companies that are listed in seven European Member States. We document how ownership concentration positively affects total shareholder turnout, but has a negative effect on small shareholder turnout. Voting power also affects small turnout rates: the greater small shareholder voting power, the greater their eagerness to vote. In addition, total and small shareholder turnout is higher the more important the meeting agenda. And, small shareholders tend to free-ride on large institutional shareholders and corporate insiders, but the magnitude of the free-rider effect is larger for the latter category of blockholders. Our results provide some important insights for the debate on shareholder rights and the role of the AGM in corporate governance. The results show that, despite the criticism, the AGM still plays a role in small shareholder monitoring. Some topics seem to clearly motivate small shareholders to attend, while others are less relevant. Policy makers can stimulate shareholder monitoring by focusing on the factors that determined in this study
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe AGM in Europe
Subtitle of host publicationTheory and practice of shareholder behaviour
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing
Number of pages204
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2017
EventAnnual Conference of the European Association of Law and Economics - Liverpool University, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 14 Sep 201717 Sep 2017


ConferenceAnnual Conference of the European Association of Law and Economics
Abbreviated titleEALE
CountryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


Cite this

Lafarre, A. (2017). ‘The more the merrier’: What drives (small) shareholder attendance at annual general meetings. In The AGM in Europe: Theory and practice of shareholder behaviour (pp. 169). Emerald Group Publishing.