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  • Author: Stuart L. Gillan, Laura T. Starks
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: We examine the role of institutional investors in financial markets and in corporate governance. In many countries, institutional investors have become the predominant players in financial markets and their influence worldwide is growing, chiefly due to the privatization and development of pension fund systems. Moreover, foreign institutional investors are becoming a significant presence, bringing their trading habits and corporate governance preferences to international markets. In fact, we argue that the primary actors prompting change in many corporate governance systems are institutional investors, often foreign institutional investors. In other countries the role of institutional investors is limited. Instead, large blockholders, often in the form of individuals, family groups, other corporations, or lending institutions are the dominant players. We present the theoretical arguments for the involvement of investors in shareholder monitoring and a brief history of institutional ownership and activism in the United States and other countries. We also discuss studies of the efficacy of such activism.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Alaine de Janvry, Elisabeth Sadoulet
  • Publication Date: 04-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Who should have access to land? What is the optimum definition of property rights and use rights in each particular context? Is government intervention justified to influence who has access to land and under what conditions? These questions remain, in most developing countries, highly contentious. It is indeed the case that land is all too often misallocated among potential users and worked under conditions of property or user rights that create perverse incentives. As a consequence, investments to enhance productivity are postponed, and responses to market incentives are weakened; many poor rural households are unable to gain sufficient (or any) access to land when this could be their best option out of poverty; land remains under-used and often idle side-by-side with unsatisfied demands for access to land; land is frequently abused by current users, jeopardizing sustainability; and violence over land rights and land use is all too frequent. With population growth and increasing market integration for the products of the land, these problems tend to become more acute rather than the reverse. As a result, rising pressures to correct these situations have led many countries to reopen the question of access to land and land policy reforms. While large scale expropriative and redistributive land reforms are generally no longer compatible with current political realities, there exist many alternative forms of property and use rights that offer policy instruments to alter the conditions of access to land and land use. A rich agenda of land policy interventions thus exists to alter who has access to land and under what conditions for the purposes of increasing efficiency, reducing poverty, enhancing sustainability, and achieving political stability.Historically, the most glamorous path of access to land has been through statemanaged coercive land reform. In most situations, however, this is not the dominant way land was accessed by current users and, in the future, this will increasingly be the case. Most of the land in use has been accessed through private transfers, community membership, direct appropriation, and market transactions. There are also new types of state-managed programmes of access to land that do not rely on coercion. For governments and development agents (NGOs, bi-lateral and international development agencies), the rapid decline in opportunities to access land through coercive land reform should thus not be seen as the end of the role of the state and development agents in promoting and altering access to land. The following paths of access to land in formal or informal, and in collective or individualized ownership can, in particular, be explored (Figure 1): (1) Intra-family transfers such as inheritances, inter-vivo transfers, and allocation of plots to specific family members; (2) access through community membership and informal land markets; (3) access through land sales markets; and (4) access through specific non-coercive policy interventions such colonization schemes, decollectivization and devolution, and land market-assisted land reform. Access to land in use can also be achieved through land rental markets (informal loans, land rental contracts) originating in any of these forms of land ownership. Each of these paths of access to land has, in turn, implications for the way land is used. Each can also be the object of policy interventions to alter these implications of land use. The focus of this policy brief is to explore each of these paths and analyse how to enhance their roles in helping increase efficiency, reduce poverty, increase equality, enhance sustainability, and achieve political stability.
  • Topic: Demographics, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Giovanni Cornia
  • Publication Date: 04-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Well before the introduction of adjustment-related Social Funds (SFs), many developing countries had developed a variety of safety nets comprising food subsidies, nutrition interventions, employment-based schemes and targeted transfers. Middle-income and a few low-income countries had also achieved extensive coverage in the field of social insurance. In countries committed to fighting poverty, these programmes absorbed considerable resources (2-5 per cent of GDP, excluding social insurance) and had a large impact on job creation, income support and nutrition: for instance, in 1983, Chile's public works programme absorbed 13 per cent of the labour force. Their ability to expand quickly depended on a permanent structure of experienced staff, good portfolios of projects, clear management rules, adequate allocation of domestic resources, supply-driven execution and, with the exception of food subsidies, fairly good targeting.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, South Asia, South America, Latin America, Central America, Caribbean, Chile
  • Author: Matti Pohjola
  • Publication Date: 11-1998
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: There is substantial evidence that new information technologies are in many ways transforming the operations of modern economies. More than half of employees use a computer at work in the most advanced industrial countries. About 10 per cent of the value of all private investment in fixed non-residential capital is devoted to computers and peripheral equipment in the United States and some other economies. This share goes up to 25 per cent when investment in information processing equipment is included. Nevertheless, all spending on information technology, including hardware, software and services, does not amount to more than 3-4 per cent of nominal GDP in these countries. The share is, however, increasing rapidly, indicating that a steady state has not yet been reached.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Francis Kramarz
  • Publication Date: 10-1998
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The rapid diffusion of computers has widely changed the consequences of computer use on the labour market. While at the beginning of the eighties knowledge of computers was an obvious advantage in a career, this same knowledge is now so commonplace that the inability to use these tools is widely seen in many industries as a professional handicap. In relation to such drastic transformations, changes in the North American wage structure during the eighties in favour of the better educated have been interpreted by many analysts as evidence of skill-biased technical change. Evidence outside the US, and in particular in Europe, seems to support the idea that similar transformations affected most other labour markets.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe