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While much has been made of “shareholder democracy” as a lever of corporate governance, there is little evidence about the efficacy of voting. This paper empirically examines votes on management-sponsored resolutions and finds widespread irregularities in the distribution of votes received by management. Management is overwhelmingly more likely to win votes by a small margin than lose by a small margin. The results indicate that, at some point in the voting process, management obtains highly accurate information about the likely voting outcome and, based on that information, acts to influence the vote. The precise point at which this occurs is unclear, though it is likely to be near the “poll-closing” time. Whatever the cause of management’s advantage, it is clear that shareholder voting does not constitute a “representative” direct democracy.
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