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Research reports
Shareholder foundations: The first european study (2015)

Ikea (Sweden), Bosch and Bertelsmann (Germany), Rolex and Sandoz (Switzerland), Lego and Carlsberg (Denmark), and even Tata (India): Who knew that these companies belonged to foundations? There are more than 1,300 cases in Denmark – with 500 in Germany and 1,000 in Norway – of companies where the founders made the fateful decision to transmit all or part of their capital and voting rights to a foundation. Why? 

In raising this question in four European countries (France, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland), Prophil dedicated its first study to reveal an economic phenomenon that has thus far escaped attention: “shareholder foundations”. Here is a model that is paradoxical: widespread yet unknown, influential yet discreet, virtuous for some and subversive for others. 

Shareholder foundations are entities that reverse the traditional relationship between a firm and a foundation. In contrast to a business that allocates a small portion of profits to endow a peripheral foundation, a shareholder foundation is itself a majority or full owner of a firm. It can thus influence, either directly or indirectly, the strategy of the firm, and can also finance philanthropic initiatives through the dividends it receives as a shareholder. 

The mission of such a foundation is not limited to supporting cultural or social projects. Rather, the priority is to protect the firm, retain company assets within national borders, and develop employment – all while serving the common good. With the support of Mazars in the various countries studied, and in close collaboration with Delsol Avocats and the ESSEC Philanthropy Chair, this study allows to discover in their vast diversity, the unknown yet inspiring models of shareholder foundations that exist across Europe.
L'engagement des collaborateurs : quels facteurs de participation durable ? (2014)

Corporate volunteering schemes offer employees many ways to use their skills for the benefit of others, be it tutoring young people in difficulty, offering their skills to NGOs on a pro-bono basis, or repainting a youth centre together with colleagues. France's most prominent companies are providing more and more opportunities for their employees to get involved in projects that benefit others, whether it be during working hours or during their free time, in partnership with a charity or through a programme managed by the company itself. Such schemes are becoming more popular worldwide in many different cultures and contexts. For example, we see corporate volunteering schemes in countries as diverse as the UK, Brasil and Lebanon. 

These projects - often advocated by CSR and human resource specialists - are supposed to yield benefits to all concerned: companies, employees and shareholders. However, we know very little about corporate volunteers. Who are they? Why do they get involved? What are the consequences of their involvement? ESSEC's Philanthropy Chair undertook a large survey of corporate volunteers in order to address these unanswered questions.

We draw on techniques and concepts from social psychology in order to help us understand what factors drive employees to stay engaged the long term.

The study is based on the responses of 619 employees engaged in corporate volunteering schemes, drawn from 17 large firms based in France (including Accenture, HSBC, Bouygues Telecom, SAP and La Banque Postale) Each employee was asked to fill in an online questionnaire in Spring 2014. We gained access to companies operating corporate volunteering schemes with the help of two professional associations (Admical, IMS-Entreprendre) and a think-tank (Le Rameau).