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Full-Text Articles in Law

The Corporate Governance Machine, Dorothy S. Lund, Elizabeth Pollman Jan 2021

The Corporate Governance Machine, Dorothy S. Lund, Elizabeth Pollman

All Faculty Scholarship

The conventional view of corporate governance is that it is a neutral set of processes and practices that govern how a company is managed. We demonstrate that this view is profoundly mistaken: in the United States, corporate governance has become a “system” composed of an array of institutional players, with a powerful shareholderist orientation. Our original account of this “corporate governance machine” generates insights about the past, present, and future of corporate governance. As for the past, we show how the concept of corporate governance developed alongside the shareholder primacy movement. This relationship is reflected in the common refrain of …


The History And Revival Of The Corporate Purpose Clause, Elizabeth Pollman Jan 2021

The History And Revival Of The Corporate Purpose Clause, Elizabeth Pollman

All Faculty Scholarship

The corporate purpose debate is experiencing a renaissance. The contours of the modern debate are relatively well developed and typically focus on whether corporations should pursue shareholder value maximization or broader social aims. A related subject that has received much less scholarly attention, however, is the formal legal mechanism by which a corporation expresses its purpose—the purpose clause of the corporate charter. This Article examines corporate purpose through the evolution of corporate charters. Starting with historic examples ranging from the Dutch East India Company to early American corporations and their modern 21st century parallels, the discussion illuminates how corporate purpose …


How Investors Can (And Can't) Create Social Value, Paul Brest, Ronald J. Gilson, Mark A. Wolfson Jan 2018

How Investors Can (And Can't) Create Social Value, Paul Brest, Ronald J. Gilson, Mark A. Wolfson

Faculty Scholarship

Most investors throughout the world have a single goal: to earn the highest risk- adjusted financial returns. They would not accept a lower financial return from an investment that also produced social benefits.

More recently, an increasing number of socially-motivated investors have goals beyond maximizing returns. They also seek to align their investments with their social values (value alignment), and some also seek to cause the companies in which they invest to create more social value as a result of their investment (social value creation). We show in this essay that while it is relatively easy to achieve value alignment, …


When Social Enterprises Fail, Jonathan Brown Jan 2017

When Social Enterprises Fail, Jonathan Brown

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Faculty Publications

This Article identifies the conflicts between social enterprise legislation and bankruptcy law and presents a normative argument for a legal regime that would harmonize the two. Focusing on benefit corporations, the most widely adopted social enterprise form, this Article observes that existing law leaves uncertainty as to the role of directors at a time of financial distress and will produce outcomes that are at odds with the core goals of social enterprise legislation. Then, drawing on academic proposals for contract-based systems of bankruptcy, this Article argues that just as a firm may opt out of a corporate governance norm of …