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Full-Text Articles in Law

The “Value” Of A Public Benefit Corporation, Jill E. Fisch, Steven Davidoff Solomon Apr 2021

The “Value” Of A Public Benefit Corporation, Jill E. Fisch, Steven Davidoff Solomon

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

We examine the “value” a PBC form provides for publicly-traded corporations. We analyze the structure of the PBC form and find that other than requiring a designated social purpose it does not differ significantly in siting control and direction with shareholders. We also examine the purpose statements in the charters of the most economically significant PBCs. We find that, independent of structural limitations on accountability, these purpose statements are, in most cases, too vague and aspirational to be legally significant, or even to serve as a reliable checks on PBC behavior. We theorize, and provide evidence, that without a legal ...


Stealth Governance: Shareholder Agreements And Private Ordering, Jill E. Fisch Mar 2021

Stealth Governance: Shareholder Agreements And Private Ordering, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Corporate law has embraced private ordering -- tailoring a firm’s corporate governance to meet its individual needs. Firms are increasingly adopting firm-specific governance through dual-class voting structures, forum selection provisions and tailored limitations on the duty of loyalty. Courts have accepted these provisions as consistent with the contractual theory of the firm, and statutes, in many cases, explicitly endorse their use. Commentators too support private ordering for its capacity to facilitate innovation and enhance efficiency.

Private ordering typically occurs through firm-specific charter and bylaw provisions. VC-funded startups, however, frequently use an alternative tool – shareholder agreements. These agreements, which have largely ...


Lifting Labor’S Voice: A Principled Path Toward Greater Worker Voice And Power Within American Corporate Governance, Leo E. Strine Jr., Aneil Kovvali, Oluwatomi O. Williams Feb 2021

Lifting Labor’S Voice: A Principled Path Toward Greater Worker Voice And Power Within American Corporate Governance, Leo E. Strine Jr., Aneil Kovvali, Oluwatomi O. Williams

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In view of the decline in gain sharing by corporations with American workers over the last forty years, advocates for American workers have expressed growing interest in allowing workers to elect representatives to corporate boards. Board level representation rights have gained appeal because they are a highly visible part of codetermination regimes that operate in several successful European economies, including Germany’s, in which workers have fared better.

But board-level representation is just one part of the comprehensive codetermination regulatory strategy as it is practiced abroad. Without a coherent supporting framework that includes representation from the ground up, as is ...


Should Corporations Have A Purpose?, Jill E. Fisch, Steven Davidoff Solomon Feb 2021

Should Corporations Have A Purpose?, Jill E. Fisch, Steven Davidoff Solomon

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The hot topic in corporate governance is the debate over corporate purpose and, in particular, whether corporations should shift their purpose from the pursuit of shareholder wealth to pursuing a broader conception of stakeholder or societal value. We argue that this debate has overlooked the critical predicate questions of whether a corporation should have a purpose at all and, if so, why,

We address these questions by examining the historical, legal and theoretical justifications for corporate purpose. We find that none of the three provides a basis for requiring a corporation to articulate a particular purpose or for a given ...


Toward Racial Equality: The Most Important Things The Business Community Can Do, Leo E. Strine Jr. Oct 2020

Toward Racial Equality: The Most Important Things The Business Community Can Do, Leo E. Strine Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In this address, former Chief Justice Strine kicked-off an important series, the Conference on Racial Equity in Corporate Governance, co-sponsored by the Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Governance, Columbia Law School; the Institute for Law & Economics, University of Pennsylvania; the Rock Center for Corporate Governance, Stanford University; and the Stanford Center for Racial Justice, Stanford Law School.

The address explains the importance of institutional investors and corporations contributing to ending the persistent inequality suffered by black Americans. And it focuses on the reality that we would have made huge strides toward closing the race gap if our corporate governance and political systems ...


The Uncertain Stewardship Potential Of Index Funds, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2020

The Uncertain Stewardship Potential Of Index Funds, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Regulators and commentators around the world are increasingly demanding that institutional investors engage in stewardship with respect to their portfolio companies. Further, the demand for stewardship has broadened from an expectation that investors engage to reduce agency costs and promote economic value to a call for investors to demand that companies serve a broader range of societal interests and objectives. This chapter considers calls for stewardship in the context of the U.S. capital markets specifically as applied to index funds. It argues that, irrespective of the merits of institutional stewardship generally, the structure of index funds and the business ...


Designing Business Forms To Pursue Social Goals, Ofer Eldar Jan 2020

Designing Business Forms To Pursue Social Goals, Ofer Eldar

Faculty Scholarship

The long-standing debate about the purpose and role of business firms has recently regained momentum. Business firms face growing pressure to pursue social goals and benefit corporation statutes proliferate across many U.S. states. This trend is largely based on the idea that firms increase long-term shareholder value when they contribute (or appear to contribute) to society. Contrary to this trend, this Article argues that the pressing issue is whether policies to create social impact actually generate value for third-party beneficiaries—rather than for shareholders. Because it is difficult to measure social impact with precision, the design of legal forms ...


Toward Fair And Sustainable Capitalism: A Comprehensive Proposal To Help American Workers, Restore Fair Gainsharing Between Employees And Shareholders, And Increase American Competitiveness By Reorienting Our Corporate Governance System Toward Sustainable Long-Term Growth And Encouraging Investments In America’S Future, Leo E. Strine Sep 2019

Toward Fair And Sustainable Capitalism: A Comprehensive Proposal To Help American Workers, Restore Fair Gainsharing Between Employees And Shareholders, And Increase American Competitiveness By Reorienting Our Corporate Governance System Toward Sustainable Long-Term Growth And Encouraging Investments In America’S Future, Leo E. Strine

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

To promote fair and sustainable capitalism and help business and labor work together to build an American economy that works for all, this paper presents a comprehensive proposal to reform the American corporate governance system by aligning the incentives of those who control large U.S. corporations with the interests of working Americans who must put their hard-earned savings in mutual funds in their 401(k) and 529 plans. The proposal would achieve this through a series of measured, coherent changes to current laws and regulations, including: requiring not just operating companies, but institutional investors, to give appropriate consideration to ...


Making Sustainability Disclosure Sustainable, Jill E. Fisch Apr 2019

Making Sustainability Disclosure Sustainable, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Sustainability is receiving increasing attention from issuers, investors and regulators. The desire to understand issuer sustainability practices and their relationship to economic performance has resulted in a proliferation of sustainability disclosure regimes and standards. The range of approaches to disclosure, however, limit the comparability and reliability of the information disclosed. The Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) has solicited comment on whether to require expanded sustainability disclosures in issuer’s periodic financial reporting, and investors have communicated broad-based support for such expanded disclosures, but, to date, the SEC has not required general sustainability disclosure.

This Article argues that claims about the relationship ...


Board Independence As A Panacea To Tunnelling? An Empirical Study Of Related Party Transactions In Hong Kong And Singapore, Christopher C. H. Chen, Wai Yee Wan, Wei Zhang Sep 2018

Board Independence As A Panacea To Tunnelling? An Empirical Study Of Related Party Transactions In Hong Kong And Singapore, Christopher C. H. Chen, Wai Yee Wan, Wei Zhang

Research Collection School Of Law

In this article, we examine a general question: is the legal transplantation of corporate governance rule effective in curtailing agency costs? Entering into the 21st century, we have seen reforms of corporate governance standards in the Far East since the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997, including in Hong Kong and Singapore. These reforms built on the Anglo-American model of corporate governance in the UK and US supported by broad academic literature of connecting better corporate governance with firm value and identifying the association of tunneling or wrongdoings with poor corporate governance practices. The idea is also to provide more checks-and-balances ...


The Shifting Tides Of Merger Litigation, Matthew D. Cain, Jill E. Fisch, Steven Davidoff Solomon, Randall S. Thomas Jan 2018

The Shifting Tides Of Merger Litigation, Matthew D. Cain, Jill E. Fisch, Steven Davidoff Solomon, Randall S. Thomas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In 2015, Delaware made several important changes to its laws concerning merger litigation. These changes, which were made in response to a perception that levels of merger litigation were too high and that a substantial proportion of merger cases were not providing value, raised the bar, making it more difficult for plaintiffs to win a lawsuit challenging a merger and more difficult for plaintiffs’ counsel to collect a fee award.

We study what has happened in the courts in response to these changes. We find that the initial effect of the changes has been to decrease the volume of merger ...


Governance By Contract: The Implications For Corporate Bylaws, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2018

Governance By Contract: The Implications For Corporate Bylaws, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Boards and shareholders are increasing using charter and bylaw provisions to customize their corporate governance. Recent examples include forum selection bylaws, majority voting bylaws and advance notice bylaws. Relying on the contractual conception of the corporation, Delaware courts have accorded substantial deference to board-adopted bylaw provisions, even those that limit shareholder rights.

This Article challenges the rationale for deference under the contractual approach. With respect to corporate bylaws, the Article demonstrates that shareholder power to adopt and amend the bylaws is, under Delaware law, more limited than the board’s power to do so. As a result, shareholders cannot effectively ...


Criminally Bad Management, Samuel W. Buell Jan 2018

Criminally Bad Management, Samuel W. Buell

Faculty Scholarship

Because of their leverage over employees, corporate managers are prime targets for incentives to control corporate crime, even when managers do not themselves commit crimes. Moreover, the collective actions of corporate management — producing what is sometimes referred to as corporate culture — can be the cause of corporate crime, not just a locus of the failure to control it. Because civil liability and private compensation arrangements have limited effects on management behavior — and because the problem is, after all, crime — criminal law is often expected to intervene. This handbook chapter offers a functional explanation for corporate criminal liability: individual criminal liability ...


Social Capital Of Directors And Corporate Governance: A Social Network Analysis, Zihan Niu, Christopher C. H. Chen Jul 2017

Social Capital Of Directors And Corporate Governance: A Social Network Analysis, Zihan Niu, Christopher C. H. Chen

Research Collection School Of Law

This Article examines how a director’s social capital might affect his or her behavior, the board’s performance, and corporate governance, as well as the potential normative implications of the director’s social network. We argue that the quality of board performance could be improved where the social network closure within the board is high and there are many non-redundant contacts beyond the board. Network closure can improve trust and collaboration within a board, while external contacts may benefit a company with more diverse sources of information. Moreover, different network positioning leads to the inequality of social capital for ...


Who Bleeds When The Wolves Bite? A Flesh-And-Blood Perspective On Hedge Fund Activism And Our Strange Corporate Governance System, Leo E. Strine Jr. Apr 2017

Who Bleeds When The Wolves Bite? A Flesh-And-Blood Perspective On Hedge Fund Activism And Our Strange Corporate Governance System, Leo E. Strine Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This paper examines the effects of hedge fund activism and so-called wolf pack activity on the ordinary human beings—the human investors—who fund our capital markets but who, as indirect of owners of corporate equity, have only limited direct power to ensure that the capital they contribute is deployed to serve their welfare and in turn the broader social good.

Most human investors in fact depend much more on their labor than on their equity for their wealth and therefore care deeply about whether our corporate governance system creates incentives for corporations to create and sustain jobs for them ...


The Separation Of Corporate Law And Social Welfare, William W. Bratton Jan 2017

The Separation Of Corporate Law And Social Welfare, William W. Bratton

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

A half century ago, corporate legal theory pursued an institutional vision in which corporations and the law that creates them protect people from the ravages of volatile free markets. That vision was challenged on the ground during the 1980s, when corporate legal institutions and market forces came to blows over questions concerning hostile takeovers. By 1990, it seemed like the institutions had won. But a different picture has emerged as the years have gone by. It is now clear that the market side really won the battle of the 1980s, succeeding in entering a wedge between corporate law and social ...


Standing Voting Instructions: Empowering The Excluded Retail Investor, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2017

Standing Voting Instructions: Empowering The Excluded Retail Investor, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Despite the increasing importance of shareholder voting, regulators have paid little attention to the rights of retail investors who own approximately 30% of publicly traded companies but who vote less than 30% of their shares. A substantial factor contributing to this low turnout is the antiquated mechanism by which retail investors vote. The federal proxy voting rules place primary responsibility for facilitating retail voting in the hands of custodial brokers who have limited incentives to develop workable procedures, and current regulatory restrictions impede market-based innovation that incorporate technological innovations.

One of the most promising such innovations is standing voting instructions ...


The Responsibility Gap In Corporate Crime, Samuel W. Buell Jan 2017

The Responsibility Gap In Corporate Crime, Samuel W. Buell

Faculty Scholarship

In many cases of criminality within large corporations, senior management does not commit the operative offense — or conspire or assist in it — but nonetheless bears serious responsibility for the crime. That responsibility can derive from, among other things, management’s role in cultivating corporate culture, in failing to police effectively within the firm, and in accepting lavish compensation for taking the firm’s reins. Criminal law does not include any doctrinal means for transposing that form of responsibility into punishment. Arguments for expanding doctrine — including broadening of the presently narrow “responsible corporate officer” doctrine — so as to authorize such punishment ...


Corporate Power Is Corporate Purpose I: Evidence From My Hometown, Leo E. Strine Jr. Dec 2016

Corporate Power Is Corporate Purpose I: Evidence From My Hometown, Leo E. Strine Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This paper is the first in a series considering a rather tired argument in corporate governance circles, that corporate laws that give only rights to stockholders somehow implicitly empower directors to regard other constituencies as equal ends in governance. By continuing to suggest that corporate boards themselves are empowered to treat the best interests of other corporate constituencies as ends in themselves, no less important than stockholders, scholars and commentators obscure the need for legal protections for other constituencies and for other legal reforms that give these constituencies the means to more effectively protect themselves.

Using recent events in the ...


Corporate Power Is Corporate Purpose Ii: An Encouragement For Future Consideration From Professors Johnson And Millon, Leo E. Strine Jr. Oct 2016

Corporate Power Is Corporate Purpose Ii: An Encouragement For Future Consideration From Professors Johnson And Millon, Leo E. Strine Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This paper is the second in a series considering the argument that corporate laws that give only rights to stockholders somehow implicitly empower directors to regard other constituencies as equal ends in governance. This piece was written as part of a symposium honoring the outstanding work of Professors Lyman Johnson and David Millon, and it seeks to encourage Professors Johnson and Millon, as proponents of the view that corporations have no duty to make stockholder welfare the end of corporate law, to focus on the reality that corporate power translates into corporate purpose.

Drawing on examples of controlled companies that ...


Solving The Puzzle Of Corporate Governance Of State-Owned Enterprises: The Path Of Temasek Model In Singapore And Lessons For China, Christopher C. H. Chen Apr 2016

Solving The Puzzle Of Corporate Governance Of State-Owned Enterprises: The Path Of Temasek Model In Singapore And Lessons For China, Christopher C. H. Chen

Research Collection School Of Law

The purpose of this Article is to examine the corporate governance of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in the Asian context by empirically surveying the influence of Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, on its portfolio of government-linked companies in Singapore. Overall, the Temasek model seems to be a promising one. This Article shows that the top listed government-linked companies in which Temasek has a stake have greater board independence than the other top listed companies in Singapore. This illustrates that a high quality of corporate governance could be aligned with public interests associated with SOEs. While this research offers hope ...


The Stewardship Of Trust In The Global Value Chain, Kishanthi Parella Jan 2016

The Stewardship Of Trust In The Global Value Chain, Kishanthi Parella

Scholarly Articles

Global governance has not yet caught up with the globalization of business. As a result, our headlines provide daily accounts of the extent and consequences of these "governance gaps." The ability of corporations to evade state control also contributes to an unusual, even frightening, phenomenon: corporations are governing like states. Some governance functions traditionally delivered by state actors are now increasingly undertaken by transnational corporations. One area that is experiencing this substitution is dispute resolution of human rights. Corporations and other business enterprises, individually or collectively, are creating a variety of grievance mechanisms to address human rights and other conflicts ...


Rediscovering Corporate Governance In Bankruptcy, David A. Skeel Jr. Jan 2015

Rediscovering Corporate Governance In Bankruptcy, David A. Skeel Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In this Essay on Lynn LoPucki and Bill Whitford’s corporate reorganization project, written for a symposium honoring Bill Whitford, I begin by very briefly describing its historical antecedents. The project draws on the insights and perspectives of two closely intertwined traditions: the legal realism of 1930s, whose exemplars included William Douglas and other participants in the SEC study; and the law in action movement at the University of Wisconsin. In Section II, I briefly survey the key contributions of the corporate governance project, which punctured the then-conventional wisdom about the treatment of shareholders in bankruptcy, managers’ principal allegiance, and ...


Corporate Sociability: Analysing Motivations For Collaborative Regulation, Mark Findlay May 2014

Corporate Sociability: Analysing Motivations For Collaborative Regulation, Mark Findlay

Research Collection School Of Law

The article explores the features and charts the principle theorizing of regulatory sociability from collaboration rather than intervention, whatever the interest-based motivation behind transforming crisis, toward orderliness. A key theme is the role played by corporations in facilitating and benefiting from sociability. A particular explanatory focus on the way in which corporate culture can change from predatory jurisdiction shopping to embracing mutuality of interests in the context of environmental sustainability is employed. The article concludes with a discussion of how, as compulsory discipline increases, it may produce compliance but at costs for regulatory sociability. The alternative regulatory paradigm is one ...


Corporate Governance And Social Welfare In The Common Law World, David A. Skeel Jr. Jan 2014

Corporate Governance And Social Welfare In The Common Law World, David A. Skeel Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The newest addition to the spate of recent theories of comparative corporate governance is Corporate Governance in the Common-Law World: The Political Foundations of Shareholder Power, an important new book by Christopher Bruner. Focusing on the U.S., the U.K., Canada and Australia, Bruner argues that the robustness of the country’s social welfare system is the key determinant of the extent to which its corporate governance is shareholder-centered. This explains why corporate governance is so shareholder-oriented in the United Kingdom, which has universal healthcare and generous unemployment benefits, while shareholders’ powers are more attenuated in the United States ...


Corporate Governance Theory And Review Of Board Decisions, Christopher M. Bruner Jan 2014

Corporate Governance Theory And Review Of Board Decisions, Christopher M. Bruner

Scholarly Works

No abstract provided.


Who Calls The Shots?: How Mutual Funds Vote On Director Elections, Stephen J. Choi, Jill E. Fisch, Marcel Kahan Jan 2013

Who Calls The Shots?: How Mutual Funds Vote On Director Elections, Stephen J. Choi, Jill E. Fisch, Marcel Kahan

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Shareholder voting has become an increasingly important focus of corporate governance, and mutual funds control a substantial percentage of shareholder voting power. The manner in which mutual funds exercise that power, however, is poorly understood. In particular, because neither mutual funds nor their advisors are beneficial owners of their portfolio holdings, there is concern that mutual fund voting may be uninformed or tainted by conflicts of interest. These concerns, if true, hamper the potential effectiveness of regulatory reforms such as proxy access and say on pay. This article analyzes mutual fund voting decisions in uncontested director elections. We find that ...


The Long Road Back: Business Roundtable And The Future Of Sec Rulemaking, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2013

The Long Road Back: Business Roundtable And The Future Of Sec Rulemaking, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The Securities and Exchange Commission has suffered a number of recent setbacks in areas ranging from enforcement policy to rulemaking. The DC Circuit’s 2011 Business Roundtable decision is one of the most serious, particularly in light of the heavy rulemaking obligations imposed on the SEC by Dodd-Frank and the JOBS Act. The effectiveness of the SEC in future rulemaking and the ability of its rules to survive legal challenge are currently under scrutiny.

This article critically evaluates the Business Roundtable decision in the context of the applicable statutory and structural constraints on SEC rulemaking. Toward that end, the essay ...


Adapting To The New Shareholder-Centric Reality, Edward B. Rock Jan 2013

Adapting To The New Shareholder-Centric Reality, Edward B. Rock

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

After more than eighty years of sustained attention, the master problem of U.S. corporate law—the separation of ownership and control—has mostly been brought under control. This resolution has occurred more through changes in market and corporate practices than through changes in the law. This Article explores how corporate law and practice are adapting to the new shareholder-centric reality that has emerged.

Because solving the shareholder–manager agency cost problem aggravates shareholder–creditor agency costs, I focus on implications for creditors. After considering how debt contracts, compensation arrangements, and governance structures can work together to limit shareholder–creditor ...


The Destructive Ambiguity Of Federal Proxy Access, Jill E. Fisch May 2012

The Destructive Ambiguity Of Federal Proxy Access, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

After almost seventy years of debate, on August 25, 2010, the SEC adopted a federal proxy access rule. This Article examines the new rule and concludes that, despite the prolonged rule-making effort, the new rule is ambiguous in its application and unlikely to increase shareholder input into the composition of corporate boards. More troubling is the SEC’s ambiguous justification for its rule which is neither grounded in state law nor premised on a normative vision of the appropriate role of shareholder nominations in corporate governance. Although the federal proxy access rule drew an unprecedented number of comment letters and ...