Sweden beats Denmark in annual general meetings

New research from CBS' World Class Research Environments shows that investors in Swedish companies experience more democratic conditions compared with Danish investors in Danish companies.


Annual general meetings in Denmark and Sweden are often run very differently. In Denmark it is very common that investors vote by proxy, whereas the boards in Sweden are challenged by investors to a much greater extent.

Times of crisis - and no democracy
It may be fatal for the companies and investors that the democratic element has been impeded - especially in times of crisis. This is demonstrated by the PhD thesis by Therese Strand, who recently benefited from a research visit at Harvard. The visit was partly financed by CBS' World Class Research Environment funds. Today she is an assistant professor at the Center for Corporate Governance at CBS.

- I attended a shareholders' meeting in Denmark. The majority of the votes - 90 per cent - were given to the board by proxy in advance, which implied that the investors in attendance actually did not have a say. In Sweden, there is another form of transparency and legislation, which makes the annual general meetings much more democratically organised, says Therese Strand.

For instance, information about share owners are public in Sweden. Therese Strands research shows that this kind of transparency increases activity at annual general meetings.

Shareholders are familiar with 'democratic deficiency'
Therese Strand has presented her research to Danish and Swedish shareholders who recognise this complex of problems:

- I have presented my studies and they have prompted a great deal of debate - both at academic conferences and among investors. I will also use these results in my future research, she says.

Therese Strand defended her PhD thesis "The Owners and the Power: insights from annual general meetings” in the summer of 2012. Since 2008, CBS has contributed DKK 30 million to six large research areas - the World Class Research Environments. Therese Strand's research has been part of the Design and Governance of Economic Institutions Environment. Please contact Peter Mølgaard, Head of the Department of Economics, for further information about Design and Governance of Economic Institutions, or contact Therese Strand.

The page was last edited by: Communications // 07/09/2013