I know that, in terms of formal grammar, either a possessive pronoun or genitive form should precede a gerund. So, for example, 'his being', etc.
I am, however, far more comfortable with the former than the latter: I have read it more. Moreover, some writers - thinking mostly of academics, who are likely to know (and apply) the possessive/gerund rule - will apply the former rule while neglecting the latter rule. Why is this?
To take the example with which I am struggling:
Despite Smith borrowing from Brown, he innovated in his political thought where necessary.
Now, according to the rule, this phrase should be rewritten as: 'Despite Smith's borrowing from Brown, he innovated in his political thought where necessary.'
This is for a final-year dissertation at university, so it is obviously for a formal piece of work. Is is ttherefore advisable that I use the possessive/gerund rule? And, related to that, why does the possessive pronoun (his borrowing) sound correct (if a little stilted), but the genitive (Smith's borrowing) sounds as if the writer or speaker is not a native speaker and has an incomplete grasp of the language.