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Post-crisis: A Call for New System of Global Governance

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Professor Nicole Biggart, director of the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center, was among 30 distinguished scholars and policy makers attending the first Globalization TrendLab Conference at The Wharton School in April. Their objective: a multidisciplinary inquiry into some of society’s most pressing systemic disruptions.

Using the financial crisis as a launching pad, the group discussed the housing bubble, debating whether the crisis stemmed from bad policies and misguided regulations, or whether deeper institutional change and new financial instruments are necessary.

When the group began to discuss other risks that cause systemic disruptions, Biggart noted that, “There is nothing more systemic than our environment. Water, air—we all share environmental property. We have new property rights issues, but we don’t have ways of thinking or talking about them because our notion of property rights is rooted in very different understandings. We share systemic risk, but we do not govern ourselves systemically.”

The group called for a new system of global governance that recognizes that countries have been affected differently by the financial crisis and that this has created hostility between nations. Further, the group believes that the current system of “self-regulation” is not working. They also called for experts and policymakers to be more modest, less arrogant and to continue asking questions and doing research to understand systemic disruptions.

In September, Biggart participated in a roundtable discussion, co-sponsored by the Aspen Institute, on “Rethinking Shareholder Value and the Purpose of the Firm” at the UCLA School of Law. Leading law and business faculty, business practitioners, institutional investors and mutual fund representatives discussed the purpose of corporations, exploring more nuanced and productive alternatives to “shareholder primacy.”

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