Doctoral Student

Sa-Pyung (Sean) Shin

Sa-Pyung Sean Shin is a doctoral candidate from Harvard Business School. His research interest lies in corporate governance and financial accounting. His current research projects focus on the topic of shareholder activism. His job market paper particularly examines the interplay between takeover defense measures that have shaped corporate governance environment since 1980’s and hedge fund activism that has recently become a major stimulus for board and management. In addition, he is broadly interested in the role of information, accounting and corporate governance across different capital markets around the world. He received a B.A. in Business Economics with a minor in Accounting from UCLA and a Master I degree in Economics from Toulouse School of Economics. He also served in the Republic of Korea Air Force for two years.

Working Papers

  1. Activist Directors: Determinants and Consequences

    Ian D. Gow, Sa-Pyung Sean Shin and Suraj Srinivasan

    This paper examines the determinants and consequences of hedge fund activism with a focus on activist directors, i.e., those directors appointed in response to demands by activists. Using a sample of 1,969 activism events over the period 2004–2012, we identify 824 activist directors. We find that activists are more likely to gain board seats at smaller firms and those with weaker stock price performance. Activists remain as shareholders longer when they have board seats, with holding periods consistent with conventional notions of "long-term" institutional investors. As in prior research, we find positive announcement-period returns of around 4–5% when a firm is targeted by activists, and a 2% increase in return on assets over the subsequent one to five years. We find that activist directors are associated with significant strategic and operational actions by firms. We find evidence of increased divestiture, decreased acquisition activity, higher probability of being acquired, lower cash balances, higher payout, greater leverage, higher CEO turnover, lower CEO compensation, and reduced investment. With the exception of the probability of being acquired, these estimated effects are generally greater when activists obtain board representation, consistent with board representation being an important mechanism for bringing about the kinds of changes that activists often demand.

    Keywords: Governing and Advisory Boards; Investment Activism;


    Gow, Ian D., Sa-Pyung Sean Shin, and Suraj Srinivasan. "Activist Directors: Determinants and Consequences." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-120, June 2014. View Details
  2. Consequences to Directors of Shareholder Activism

    Ian D. Gow, Sa-Pyung Sean Shin and Suraj Srinivasan

    We examine how shareholder activist campaigns affect the careers of directors of the targeted firms. Using a comprehensive sample of shareholder activism between 2004 and 2011, we find that directors are almost twice as likely to leave over a two-year period if the firm is the subject of a shareholder activist campaign. While it has been argued that proxy contests are an ineffective mechanism for replacing directors, as they rarely succeed in getting a majority of shareholder support, our results suggest that director turnover takes place following shareholder activism even without shareholder activists engaging in, let alone winning, proxy contests. Performance-sensitivity of director turnover is also higher in the presence of shareholder activism. We also find that director election results matter for director retention: directors are more likely to leave in the year following activism when they receive lower shareholder support. Contrary to consequences on the targeted firm's board, we find no evidence that directors lose seats on other boards, a proxy for reputational consequences, as a result of shareholder activism.

    Keywords: shareholder activism; hedge funds; independent directors; Director reputation; accountability; Shareholder voting; Voting; Retention; Investment Funds; Management Teams; Investment Activism;


    Gow, Ian D., Sa-Pyung Sean Shin, and Suraj Srinivasan. "Consequences to Directors of Shareholder Activism." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-071, February 2014. View Details