Governance by Litigation

53 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2015 Last revised: 1 Jul 2019

See all articles by Ian Appel

Ian Appel

Boston College - Carroll School of Management

Date Written: June 2019


I examine the effect of shareholder litigation rights on the governance of firms. My empirical strategy exploits the staggered adoption of universal demand (UD) laws, which restrict lawsuits alleging a breach of fiduciary duty by directors or officers. UD is associated with an increase in the use of governance provisions (e.g., classified boards) commonly opposed by shareholders. Evidence suggests that shareholders partially offset this effect via non-binding proposals. However, UD is associated with weaker operating performance, particularly for firms without an existing blockholder. Overall, my findings highlight a complementary relationship between shareholder litigation and alternative governance mechanisms.

Suggested Citation

Appel, Ian, Governance by Litigation (June 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Ian Appel (Contact Author)

Boston College - Carroll School of Management ( email )

Carroll School of Management
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467-3808
United States

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