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Law & Economics Working Papers Archive: 2003-2009

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The Cyclical Transformations Of The Coporate Form: A Historical Pespective On Corporate Social Responsibility, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Feb 2005

The Cyclical Transformations Of The Coporate Form: A Historical Pespective On Corporate Social Responsibility, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers Archive: 2003-2009

This Article describes the transformations underwent by the corporate form from its Roman origins to the present. It shows that every time there was a shift in the role of the corporation, three theories of the corporation (the aggregate, artificial, and real entity theories) were brought forward in cyclical fashion. However, every time the real entity theory prevailed, and it is the dominant theory during periods of stability in the relationship between the corporation, the shareholders, and the state. The article describes this evolution in detail, and then attempts to derive normative consequences for the legitimacy of corporate social responsibility ...