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Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

Corporations

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The Problem Of Nonprofit Executive Pay?: Evidence From U.S. Colleges And Universities, Brian D. Galle, David I. Walker Apr 2015

The Problem Of Nonprofit Executive Pay?: Evidence From U.S. Colleges And Universities, Brian D. Galle, David I. Walker

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

Nonprofit organizations suffer from agency problems that are similar to or perhaps even more severe than those observed at for-profit companies. As a result, one might expect the executive pay setting process in the two sectors to reflect similar deficiencies. This Article explains why the managerial power theory that was developed to help explain for-profit executive pay is plausibly applicable to nonprofits. More importantly, this Article offers new evidence based on data from a large panel of colleges and universities collected across a nine year period that supports the idea that potential stakeholder outrage plays a role in limiting nonprofit ...


The Puzzle Of Short-Termism, Kent Greenfield Oct 2011

The Puzzle Of Short-Termism, Kent Greenfield

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

From the Introduction: When pondering the question of the “sustainable corporation,” as we did in this symposium, one of the intractable problems is the nature of the corporation to produce externalities. By noting this characteristic, I am not making a moral point but an economic one. The nature of the firm is to create financial wealth by producing goods and services for profit; without regulatory or contractual limits, the firm has every incentive to externalize costs onto those whose interests are not included in the firm’s current financial calculus. In fact, because of the corporation’s tendency to create ...


Corporate Governance And Accountability, Renee M. Jones Jan 2010

Corporate Governance And Accountability, Renee M. Jones

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

This book chapter on Corporate Governance and Accountability is a contribution to the book CORPORATE GOVERNANCE - SYNTHESIS OF THEORY, RESEARCH, AND PRACTICE (Wiley, forthcoming 2010), edited by Ronald Anderson and H. Kent Baker. This chapter describes the sources of corporate governance standards for American corporations and analyzes the accountability mechanisms designed to ensure that corporate officials act faithfully in their management of corporate affairs. The chapter focuses on the financial reporting system under the U.S. securities laws which forms the foundation of the accountability system, and discusses structures and rules designed to ensure the integrity of financial reporting. The ...


Legitimacy And Corporate Law: The Case For Regulatory Redundancy, Renee M. Jones Aug 2009

Legitimacy And Corporate Law: The Case For Regulatory Redundancy, Renee M. Jones

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

This article provides a democratic assessment of the corporate law making structure in the United States. It draws upon the basic democratic principle that those affected by legal rules should have a voice in determining the substance of those rules. Although other commentators have noted certain undemocratic aspects of corporate law, this Article is the first to present a comprehensive assessment of the corporate regulatory structure from the perspective of democracy. It departs from prior accounts by looking past the states' role to consider the ways that federal regulation shores up the legitimacy of the overarching structure. This focus on ...


The Failure Of Private Ordering And The Financial Crisis Of 2008, Brian J.M. Quinn Apr 2009

The Failure Of Private Ordering And The Financial Crisis Of 2008, Brian J.M. Quinn

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

This Article analyzes the Financial Crisis of 2008 in the context of failures by market participants to engage in private ordering thus leading to opportunistic behavior at the expense of market stability. The Financial Crisis of 2008 offers a decidedly negative verdict on a decades-long project to deregulate financial markets and rely on private ordering mechanisms, including securitization and default swaps, to mitigate opportunistic behavior and improve market efficiency. Although the regulatory approach of the past two decades, which relied in great measure on private parties fending for themselves, helped to generate a number of innovations and positive developments in ...


Corporate Law And The Rhetoric Of Choice, Kent Greenfield Feb 2009

Corporate Law And The Rhetoric Of Choice, Kent Greenfield

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

Rhetorically, the notion of choice has always been a powerful one in politics and law. This essay is intended to offer a note of caution about its use. Despite its progressive hue of individual freedom, the rhetoric of choice increasingly tends to be a notion used to defend and uphold existing matrices of economic and social power. This is because the rhetoric of choice is an excellent way to support exiting power relationships. The assertion that people acting within such power relationships are simply choosing their current situation undermines efforts to change those relationships. The powerful stay powerful; the weak ...


The International Organization For Standardization: Private Voluntary Standards As Swords And Shields, David A. Wirth Feb 2009

The International Organization For Standardization: Private Voluntary Standards As Swords And Shields, David A. Wirth

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

Private voluntary standards such as the International Organization for Standardization's (ISO's) 14000 series have played an increasingly important role in encouraging corporations to adopt more sustainable business models on their own initiative and not in direct response to governmentally mandated requirements. ISO standards have a number of benefits, including promoting international uniformity; elevating environmental issues within an enterprise; promoting international trade; and providing a minimal level of environmental performance in countries with less than adequate regulatory infrastructure. Concerns about ISO standards include the relationship to public regulation; and ISO 14001's essentially procedural, as opposed to performance-based, character ...


Corporate Ethics In A Devilish System, Kent Greenfield Dec 2008

Corporate Ethics In A Devilish System, Kent Greenfield

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

Prepared for a roundtable on corporate ethics at the University of Maryland School of Law, this essay argues that discussions of corporate ethics that focus on mere compliance with law are too narrow. While an emphasis on legal compliance is indeed crucial, a dedication to legality standing alone is hardly a robust sense of ethics, corporate or otherwise. Whether one takes guidance from religious norms or from secular philosophers, there are significant areas of agreement as to what amounts to ethical behavior: acting with due care for others; taking responsibility for the effect of one's actions; being honest; considering ...


The Disaster At Bhopal: Lessons For Corporate Law?, Kent Greenfield Dec 2008

The Disaster At Bhopal: Lessons For Corporate Law?, Kent Greenfield

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

Prepared for a conference at New England Law School marking the upcoming twenty-fifth anniversary of the disaster at Bhopal, this essay asks whether we have anything still to learn from what occurred in the early morning hours in Bhopal on December 3, 1984, and in the hours, days, and weeks that followed. Is there reason to believe, for example, that corporations have a tendency to create the context in which such disasters are more likely? More recent corporate behavior poses the same question, whether it pertains to environmental destruction, injuries to consumers, collusion with illegal governmental activities, or financial malfeasance ...


The Impact Of "Going Private" On Corporate Stakeholders, Kent Greenfield Dec 2008

The Impact Of "Going Private" On Corporate Stakeholders, Kent Greenfield

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

As capital markets in the United States increasingly "go private," it is unclear how the privatization of corporate finance will affect non-shareholder stakeholders of firms, most centrally employees, communities, and the environment. Some scholars and public policy experts believe that concern for such stakeholders should not hold any relevance in the discussion of corporate law in general, and thus may be presumed to believe the same about a conversation about privatization. In such a view, these concerns lie outside the realm of corporate governance law; they therefore should be of no great moment in the debate over whether public policy ...


The Moral Hazard Problem In Global Economic Regulation, Frank J. Garcia Jul 2008

The Moral Hazard Problem In Global Economic Regulation, Frank J. Garcia

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

Global regulation of international business transactions presents a particular form of the moral hazard problem. Global firms use economic and political power to manipulate state and state-controlled multilateral regulation to preserve their opportunity to externalize the social costs of global economic activity with impunity. Unless other actors can effectively counter this at the national and global regulatory levels, globalization re-creates the conditions for under-regulated or “robber baron” capitalism at the global level. This model of economic activity has been rejected at the national level by the same modern democratic capitalist states which currently dominate globalization, creating a crisis of legitimacy ...


Reclaiming Corporate Law In A New Gilded Age, Kent Greenfield Mar 2008

Reclaiming Corporate Law In A New Gilded Age, Kent Greenfield

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

Corporate law matters. Traditionally seen as the narrow study of the relationship between managers and shareholders, corporate law has frequently been relegated to the margins of legal discussion and political debate. The marginalization of corporate law has been especially prevalent among those who count themselves as progressives. While this has not always been true, in the last generation or so progressives have focused on constitutional law and other areas of so-called public law, and have left corporate law to adherents of neoclassical law and economics. To the extent that the behavior of businesses has been a matter of concern, that ...


Carrots For Vetogates: Incentive Systems To Promote Capital Market Gatekeeper Effectiveness, Lawrence A. Cunningham Apr 2007

Carrots For Vetogates: Incentive Systems To Promote Capital Market Gatekeeper Effectiveness, Lawrence A. Cunningham

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

This Article contributes a novel idea to the literature on capital market gatekeepers: positive incentive systems for gatekeepers to perform functions not required of them in exchange for rewards if they perform the functions successfully. Capital market gatekeeping theory relies upon the reputations that gatekeepers are assumed to command and protect backstopped by negative threats of legal liability for failure to perform legally mandated functions. The ineffectiveness of many gatekeepers during the late 1990s and early 2000s revealed practical limitations of the reputational constraint and the reforms that responded to the failures continue to emphasize the legal duties and legal ...


Debate: Saving The World With Corporate Law?, Kent Greenfield, D. Gordon Smith Apr 2007

Debate: Saving The World With Corporate Law?, Kent Greenfield, D. Gordon Smith

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

The current debate within corporate law is as fundamental as any time since the New Deal, when the great exchange between Merrick Dodd and A.A. Berle defined the issues for a generation of scholars. Today, the community of corporate law scholars in the United States is split between two groups. The first, heavily influenced by economic analysis of corporations, argues the merits of increasing shareholder power vis-à-vis directors. Another group, animated by concern for economic justice, challenges the traditional, shareholder-centric view of corporate law, arguing instead for a model of “stakeholder governance.” The enclosed article is an untraditional method ...


A Prescription To Retire The Rhetoric Of "Principles-Based Systems" In Corporate Law, Securities Regulation And Accounting, Lawrence A. Cunningham Mar 2007

A Prescription To Retire The Rhetoric Of "Principles-Based Systems" In Corporate Law, Securities Regulation And Accounting, Lawrence A. Cunningham

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

This Article corrects widespread misconception about whether complex regulatory systems can be fairly described as either “rules-based” or “principles-based” (also called “standards-based”). Promiscuous use of these labels has proliferated in the years since the implosion of Enron Corp. While the concepts of rules and principles (or standards) are useful to classify individual provisions, they are not scalable to the level of complex regulatory systems. The Article uses examples from corporate law, securities regulation and accounting to illustrate this problematic phenomenon before turning to a series of possible explanations for the widespread use of these misleading labels. The piece contributes to ...


Holding Charities Accountable: Some Thoughts From An Ex-Regulator, Catharine P. Wells Dec 2006

Holding Charities Accountable: Some Thoughts From An Ex-Regulator, Catharine P. Wells

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

This paper recounts a number of lessons learned in the course of serving as the Director of Public Charities for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It incorporates these lessons into a discussion of the proper analysis of charitable organizations. Should charities be analogized to for-profit firms or are they something that is essentially different? The paper argues that they lack many of the attributes of Coasian firms and that they should be considered as “consumption groups” that have different methods of accountability.


The Corporate Origins Of Judicial Review, Mary Sarah Bilder Dec 2006

The Corporate Origins Of Judicial Review, Mary Sarah Bilder

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

This Article argues that the origins of judicial review lie in corporate law. Diverging from standard historical accounts that locate the origins in theories of fundamental law or in the American structure of government, the Article argues that judicial review was the continuation of a longstanding English practice of constraining corporate ordinances by requiring that they be not repugnant to the laws of the nation. This practice of limiting legislation under the standard of repugnancy to the laws of England became applicable to American colonial law. The history of this repugnancy practice explains why the Framers of the Constitution presumed ...


Too Big To Fail: Moral Hazard In Auditing And The Need To Restructure The Industry Before It Unravels, Lawrence A. Cunningham Sep 2006

Too Big To Fail: Moral Hazard In Auditing And The Need To Restructure The Industry Before It Unravels, Lawrence A. Cunningham

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

Large audit firms may believe that they are too big to fail. Arthur Andersen’s 2002 criminal indictment reduced their number from five to four, and the government decided in 2005 to avoid indicting KPMG for crimes it admitted committing. If audit firms interpret the government’s reluctance to indict as signaling aversion to tough action against them, moral hazard arises. This offsets auditing improvements mandated by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 that are designed to strengthen auditors’ reputations with managers for thoroughness and improve financial statement reliability. Neutralizing this moral hazard requires a credible alternative industry structure so that ...


Law, Media, & Environmental Policy: A Fundamental Linkage In Sustainable Democratic Governance, Zygmunt J.B. Plater Sep 2006

Law, Media, & Environmental Policy: A Fundamental Linkage In Sustainable Democratic Governance, Zygmunt J.B. Plater

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

The functional linkages between law and media have long been signficant in shaping American democratic governance. Over the past thirty-five years, environmental analysis has similarly become essential to shaping international and domestic governmental policy. Environmentalism—focusing as it does on realistic interconnected accounting of the full potential negative consequences as well as benefits of proposed actions, policies, and programs, over the long term as well as the short term, with careful consideration of all realistic alternatives— provides a legal perspective important for societal sustainability. Because environmental values and norms are often in tension with established industrial interests that resist public ...


The Story Of Nlrb V. Mackay Radio & Telegraph Co.: The High Cost Of Solidarity, Thomas C. Kohler, Julius G. Getman Aug 2006

The Story Of Nlrb V. Mackay Radio & Telegraph Co.: The High Cost Of Solidarity, Thomas C. Kohler, Julius G. Getman

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

In 1938, in NLRB v. Mackay Radio & Telegraph Co., the Supreme Court offered one of its earliest interpretations of the National Labor Relations Act. Although the Court’s holding provided that employers may not discriminate against employees for their union activity when the strike is over and workers are reinstated, dicta in the opinion also provided that under the NLRA employers enjoy an unrestricted right to replace strikers. In the 70 years since the Court’s announcement, scholars remain baffled by the contradictions presented by the “Mackay doctrine”—a rule that forbids employers from discharging legally protected strikers while, at ...


The Common Law As An Iterative Process: A Preliminary Inquiry, Lawrence A. Cunningham Jun 2006

The Common Law As An Iterative Process: A Preliminary Inquiry, Lawrence A. Cunningham

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

The common law often is casually referred to as an iterative process without much attention given to the detailed attributes such processes exhibit. This Article explores this characterization, uncovering how common law as an iterative process is one of endless repetition that is simultaneously stable and dynamic, self-similar but evolving, complex yet simple. These attributes constrain the systemic significance of judicial discretion and also confirm the wisdom of traditional approaches to studying and learning law. As an iterative system, common law exhibits what physicists call sensitive dependence on initial conditions. This generates a path dependency from which it may be ...


The Gratuities Debate And Campaign Reform – How Strong Is The Link?, George D. Brown May 2006

The Gratuities Debate And Campaign Reform – How Strong Is The Link?, George D. Brown

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

The federal gratuities statute, 18 USC § 201(c), continues to be a source of confusion and contention. The confusion stems largely from problems of draftsmanship within the statute, as well as uncertainty concerning the relationship of the gratuities offense to bribery. Both offenses are contained in the same statute; the former is often seen as a lesser-included offense variety of the latter. The controversy stems from broader concerns about whether the receipt of gratuities by public officials, even from those they regulate, should be a crime. The argument that such conduct should not be criminalized can be traced to, and ...


Language, Deals And Standards: The Future Of Xml Contracts, Lawrence A. Cunningham May 2006

Language, Deals And Standards: The Future Of Xml Contracts, Lawrence A. Cunningham

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

eXtensible Markup Language (XML) structures information in documentary systems ranging from financial reports to medical records and business contracts. XML standards for specific applications are developed spontaneously by self-appointed technologists or entrepreneurs. XML’s social and economic stakes are considerable, especially when developed for the private law of contracts. XML can reduce transaction costs but also limit the range of contractual expression and redefine the nature of law practice. So reliance on spontaneous development may be sub-optimal and identification of a more formal public standard setting model necessary. To exploit XML’s advantages while minimizing risks, this Article envisions creating ...


The Notion Of Solidarity And The Secret History Of American Labor Law, Thomas C. Kohler Apr 2006

The Notion Of Solidarity And The Secret History Of American Labor Law, Thomas C. Kohler

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

“Solidarity,” a term not overly familiar to Americans, sometimes seems to have as many meanings as it has users. The concept became incorporated into American thought during the 19th and 20th century waves of Catholic and Jewish immigration. It provides a European vision of communitarian social order that competes with the “unencumbered self”—America’s unique brand of individualism. Among philosophers, politicians, religious thinkers, and social activists, solidarity theory sought to redefine the then-prevailing views of social bonds. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the American labor movement, which espouses as its core values the principles of unity and ...


Heights Of Justice (Introduction And Front Matter), Lawrence A. Cunningham Dec 2005

Heights Of Justice (Introduction And Front Matter), Lawrence A. Cunningham

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

In this pioneering book, Boston College Law School’s Academic Dean, Lawrence Cunningham, arranges selected contributions of his faculty’s scholarship into a meditation upon justice. The book weaves a combination of theory and practice to articulate moral and ethical values that facilitate rational application of law. It envisions legal arrangements imbued with commitments of the Jesuit tradition, including the dignity of persons, the common good and compassion for the poor. This reflective collection of inquiry evokes a signature motif of the BC Law faculty in dozens of different legal subjects. Materials downloadable from this abstract consist of: Table of ...


A Bridle, A Prod And A Big Stick: An Evaluation Of Class Actions, Shareholder Proposals And The Ultra Vires Doctrine As Methods For Controlling Corporate Behavior, Adam Sulkowski, Kent Greenfield Jun 2005

A Bridle, A Prod And A Big Stick: An Evaluation Of Class Actions, Shareholder Proposals And The Ultra Vires Doctrine As Methods For Controlling Corporate Behavior, Adam Sulkowski, Kent Greenfield

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

Written for the recent conference at St. John’s University Law School on “People of Color, Women, and the Public Corporation,” this paper evaluates recently applied methods of influencing corporate behavior on employment practices and recommends that a dormant legal doctrine be revitalized and added to the “tool box” of activists and concerned shareholders. The methods of influencing corporate behavior that are evaluated include class action lawsuits and shareholder proposals to amend corporate policy. In both contexts, there are procedural hurdles to achieving success. Even when success is achieved, there are limits to the actual changes in organizational behavior that ...


New Principles For Corporate Law, Kent Greenfield Apr 2005

New Principles For Corporate Law, Kent Greenfield

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

The fundamental assumptions of corporate law have changed little in decades. Accepted as truth are the notions that corporations are voluntary, private, contractual entities, that they have broad powers to make money in whatever ways and in whatever locations they see fit. The primary obligation of management is to shareholders, and shareholders alone. Corporations have broad powers but only a limited role: they exist to make money. Those who maintain these principles – a group that includes most of the legal scholars who teach and write in the area – have derived the narrow role of corporations in one of two ways ...


Private Standards In Public Law: Copyright, Lawmaking And The Case Of Accounting, Lawrence A. Cunningham Mar 2005

Private Standards In Public Law: Copyright, Lawmaking And The Case Of Accounting, Lawrence A. Cunningham

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

Government increasingly leverages its regulatory function by embodying in law standards that are promulgated and copyrighted by non-governmental organizations. Departures from such standards expose citizens to criminal, civil and administrative sanctions, yet private actors generate, control and limit access to them. Despite governmental ambitions, no one is responsible for evaluating the legitimacy of this approach and no framework exists to facilitate analysis. This Article contributes an analytical framework and, for the federal government, nominates the Director of the Federal Register to implement it. Analysis is animated using among the oldest and broadest examples of this pervasive but stealthy phenomenon: embodiment ...


Finance Theory And Accounting Fraud: Fantastic Futures Versus Conservative Histories, Lawrence A. Cunningham Jan 2005

Finance Theory And Accounting Fraud: Fantastic Futures Versus Conservative Histories, Lawrence A. Cunningham

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

Intellectual tension between the fields of finance and accounting may help to explain explosion of public company frauds. Finance theory diminishes the relevance of accounting information. Enron exploited this consequence while the SEC bought into it. After widespread frauds were exposed, Congress passed laws that address symptoms of finance's futurism, not disease. Laws essentially prohibit pro forma financial reporting and regulate the selective flow of futuristic information to financial analysts. Untouched is the underlying disease of regulatory mandates requiring extensive disclosure of forward-looking information. Until the 1970s, the SEC prudently prohibited such futuristic disclosure as inherently unreliable; assisted by ...


Democracy And The Dominance Of Delaware In Corporate Law, Kent Greenfield Nov 2004

Democracy And The Dominance Of Delaware In Corporate Law, Kent Greenfield

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

Among the grandest debates within corporate law is whether the dominance of Delaware is the result of a “race to the bottom” -- toward a legal regime that benefits managers at the expense of the shareholders -- or a “race to the top” -- toward an efficient, shareholder-centric governance framework. This paper argues that this debate is largely beside the point. Even if Delaware’s dominance is the result of a competition resulting in law that efficiently serves the interests of shareholders, it is nevertheless illegitimate. This is because the internal affairs doctrine, on which Delaware’s preeminence depends, in effect allows corporations ...