European Business Organization Law Review

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 659–700 | Cite as

Dissenting Directors

  • Piergaetano Marchetti
  • Gianfranco Siciliano
  • Marco Ventoruzzo


Expressions of dissent by corporate directors might be a valuable attribute of good corporate governance indicating the existence of an active board, but dissent is not necessarily a sign of independence, and can be disruptive and ill-motivated. Notwithstanding the potential importance of directors’ dissent, the subject has been largely neglected in the academic literature, also due to the scarcity of empirical or anecdotal evidence. We examine empirically dissent of directors—expressed either by voting against a resolution of the board, or by resigning from the board—using handpicked data from the Italian market. Differently from the few other works on this issue, we also consider dissent expressed by non-independent directors. After an overview of the existing literature on directors’ dissent, we discuss the legal framework of dissent under Italian law. We then present our dataset and discuss some methodological issues. In our empirical analysis, we address four questions: (a) What are the topics that directors more often dissent on? (b) What are the characteristics of dissenting directors in terms of age, gender, education, compensation, and who appointed them, as well as in terms of the organization of the board (e.g., if the positions of President and CEO are separated)? (c) In what types of corporations is dissent more common, in particular with respect to economic performance? (d) What are the consequences of dissent in terms of cumulative abnormal returns and volatility of the shares? Based on the results of the analysis, we offer some conclusions and raise some policy questions.


Board of directors Dissent Independent directors Corporate governance Empirical analysis Firm’s performance 



We wish to thank Borsa Italiana s.p.a., and specifically Livia Gasperi and Alessandro Delle Donne, for making available important public data in a manageable form; Massimo Menchini for reading an earlier draft and offering precious suggestions; and Duccio Regoli for sharing some ideas on independent directors with the Authors. We are particularly grateful to Maria Lucia Passador for excellent research assistance.


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Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser Press 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Piergaetano Marchetti
    • 1
  • Gianfranco Siciliano
    • 1
  • Marco Ventoruzzo
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Bocconi University School of LawMilanItaly
  2. 2.Pennsylvania State University Law SchoolUniversity ParkUSA
  3. 3.Max Planck InstituteLuxembourgLuxembourg
  4. 4.Research Associate, ECGIBrusselsBelgium

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