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Shareholder AI Activism

Shareholder AI Activism

Full project title: Shareholder AI activism: Corporate governance as means towards responsible tech?


As AI technologies are increasingly embedded into society, there is a concern how to ensure that they are conducive to public interest, a problem sometimes referred to as AI governance. Approaches towards improving AI governance include ethics principles, regulation, and open sourcing, each with their strengths and weaknesses. This project will examine another, complementary approach: shareholder activism.

Shareholder activism has historically played a role in pushing public companies to adopt responsible policies. AI-related shareholder activism has so far received little attention in the literature. Major holders of tech company shares, such as the Church of England, have already begun initiatives to push the companies to adopt more responsible policies on AI. However, these initiatives have so far been defeated due to tech companies’ unique corporate governance arrangements.

By computationally collating data from public sources, the project will produce open data on

(1) the extent of shareholder AI activism in US and European tech firms, and

(2) the organizations behind it.

This primer project’s main impact is to introduce corporate governance into the academic debate on AI governance, which through follow-up work could lead to changes in AI activism, public policy, and corporate policy, thus eventually improving AI governance.

Key Information

  • Dieter Schwarz Stiftung gGmbH
  • Project dates:
    April 2022 - March 2023

    All Publications


    Working Papers

    Lehdonvirta, Vili and Ricucci, Rachel (2023) Who does “Big Tech” stand for? Conflict between shareholders and executives over the direction of technological change. Available at SSRN.

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