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University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Corporations

Law and Society

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Full-Text Articles in Law

The Supreme Court And The Pro-Business Paradox, Elizabeth Pollman Nov 2021

The Supreme Court And The Pro-Business Paradox, Elizabeth Pollman

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One of the most notable trends of the Roberts Court is expanding corporate rights and narrowing liability or access to justice against corporate defendants. This Comment examines recent Supreme Court cases to highlight this “pro-business” pattern as well as its contradictory relationship with counter trends in corporate law and governance. From Citizens United to Americans for Prosperity, the Roberts Court’s jurisprudence could ironically lead to a situation in which it has protected corporate political spending based on a view of the corporation as an “association of citizens,” but allows constitutional scrutiny to block actual participants from getting information about …


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

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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 …


Just Say Yes? The Fiduciary Duty Implications Of Directorial Acquiescence, Lisa Fairfax Mar 2021

Just Say Yes? The Fiduciary Duty Implications Of Directorial Acquiescence, Lisa Fairfax

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The rise in shareholder activism is one of the most significant recent phenomena in corporate governance. Shareholders have successfully managed to enhance their power within the corporation, and much of that success has resulted from corporate managers and directors voluntarily acceding to shareholder demands. Directors’ voluntary acquiescence to shareholder demands is quite simply remarkable. Remarkable because most of the changes reflect policies and practices that directors have vehemently opposed for decades, and because when opposing such changes directors stridently insisted that the changes were not in the corporation’s best interest. In light of that insistence, and numerous statements from directors …


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

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

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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 …


Caremark And Esg, Perfect Together: A Practical Approach To Implementing An Integrated, Efficient, And Effective Caremark And Eesg Strategy, Leo E. Strine Jr., Kirby M. Smith, Reilly S. Steel Jan 2021

Caremark And Esg, Perfect Together: A Practical Approach To Implementing An Integrated, Efficient, And Effective Caremark And Eesg Strategy, Leo E. Strine Jr., Kirby M. Smith, Reilly S. Steel

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With increased calls from investors, legislators, and academics for corporations to consider employee, environmental, social, and governance factors (“EESG”) when making decisions, boards and managers are struggling to situate EESG within their existing reporting and organizational structures. Building on an emerging literature connecting EESG with corporate compliance, this Essay argues that EESG is best understood as an extension of the board’s duty to implement and monitor a compliance program under Caremark. If a company decides to do more than the legal minimum, it will simultaneously satisfy legitimate demands for strong EESG programs and promote compliance with the law. Building …


Restoration: The Role Stakeholder Governance Must Play In Recreating A Fair And Sustainable American Economy A Reply To Professor Rock, Leo E. Strine Jr. Jan 2021

Restoration: The Role Stakeholder Governance Must Play In Recreating A Fair And Sustainable American Economy A Reply To Professor Rock, Leo E. Strine Jr.

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In his excellent article, For Whom is the Corporation Managed in 2020?: The Debate Over Corporate Purpose, Professor Edward Rock articulates his understanding of the debate over corporate purpose. This reply supports Professor Rock’s depiction of the current state of corporate law in the United States. It also accepts Professor Rock’s contention that finance and law and economics professors tend to equate the value of corporations to society solely with the value of their equity. But, I employ a less academic lens on the current debate about corporate purpose, and am more optimistic about proposals to change our corporate governance …


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 Jr. 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 Jr.

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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 and make …


Making Sustainability Disclosure Sustainable, Jill E. Fisch Jul 2019

Making Sustainability Disclosure Sustainable, Jill E. Fisch

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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 …


From Apathy To Activism: The Emergence, Impact, And Future Of Shareholder Activism As The New Corporate Governance Norm, Lisa M. Fairfax May 2019

From Apathy To Activism: The Emergence, Impact, And Future Of Shareholder Activism As The New Corporate Governance Norm, Lisa M. Fairfax

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The conventional and long-held view that public company shareholders are, and should be, rationally apathetic is waning. Today, public company shareholders are active. Such shareholders have actively sought to increase their voting power and influence over director elections and other important corporate matters. These shareholders not only have been voting, but they also have been voting against management preferences. Moreover, public company shareholders increasingly have begun to request, and in some instances demand, that corporate officers and directors engage with them around a range of issues. The shift away from shareholder apathy reflects a radical departure from the traditional corporate …


Amending Corporate Charters And Bylaws, Albert H. Choi, Geeyoung Min Aug 2017

Amending Corporate Charters And Bylaws, Albert H. Choi, Geeyoung Min

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Recently, courts have embraced the contractarian theory that corporate charters and bylaws constitute a “contract” between the shareholders and the corporation and have been more willing to uphold bylaws unilaterally adopted by the directors. This paper examines the contractarian theory by drawing a parallel between amending charters and bylaws, on the one hand, and amending contracts, on the other. In particular, the paper compares the right to unilaterally amend corporate bylaws with the right to unilaterally modify contract terms, and highlights how contract law imposes various limitations on the modifying party’s discretion. More generally, when the relationship of contracting parties …


Corporate Power Is Corporate Purpose Ii: An Encouragement For Future Consideration From Professors Johnson And Millon, Leo E. Strine Jr. Jan 2017

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

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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 …


Corporate Power Is Corporate Purpose I: Evidence From My Hometown, Leo E. Strine Jr. Jan 2017

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

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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 …


Appraising Merger Efficiencies, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2017

Appraising Merger Efficiencies, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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Mergers of business firms violate the antitrust laws when they threaten to lessen competition, which generally refers to a price increase resulting from a reduction in output. However, a merger that threatens competition may also enable the post-merger firm to reduce its costs or improve its product. Attitudes toward mergers are heavily driven by assumptions about efficiency gains. If mergers of competitors never produced efficiency gains but simply reduced the number of competitors, a strong presumption against them would be warranted. We tolerate most mergers because of a background, highly generalized belief that most or at least many produce cost …


Symbolic Corporate Governance Politics, Marcel Kahan, Edward B. Rock Jan 2014

Symbolic Corporate Governance Politics, Marcel Kahan, Edward B. Rock

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How are we to understand the persistent gap between rhetoric and reality that characterizes so much of corporate governance politics? In this Article, we show that the rhetoric around a variety of high profile corporate governance controversies (including shareholder proposals asking boards to redeem poison pills, proxy access, majority voting in director elections, and shareholder proposals to remove supermajority voting requirements) cannot be justified by the material interests at stake. At the same time, shareholder activists are oddly reluctant to pursue issues that may have a more material impact, such as anti-pill charter provisions or mandatory bylaw amendments. We consider …


Striking The Right Balance: Investor And Consumer Protection In The New Financial Marketplace: Introduction, Lisa Fairfax, Arthur E. Wilmarth Jr Apr 2013

Striking The Right Balance: Investor And Consumer Protection In The New Financial Marketplace: Introduction, Lisa Fairfax, Arthur E. Wilmarth Jr

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On March 2, 2012, The George Washington University Law School's Center for Law, Economics & Finance and The George Washington Law Review jointly hosted a symposium entitled "Striking the Right Balance: Investor and Consumer Protection in the New Financial Marketplace."' The symposium focused on two principal topics. First, participants analyzed the impact of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act ("Dodd-Frank") on investors and consumers in three areas of federal regulation-securities markets, derivatives markets, and consumer financial products. Second, the symposium evaluated the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 ("Sarbanes-Oxley") on its tenth anniversary and considered whether Sarbanes-Oxley's legacy might …


Board Diversity Revisited: New Rationale, Same Old Story, Lisa Fairfax Mar 2011

Board Diversity Revisited: New Rationale, Same Old Story, Lisa Fairfax

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Recently, board diversity advocates have relied on market- or economic-based rationales to convince corporate America to increase the number of women and people of color in the boardroom, in lieu of moral or social justifications. This shift away from moral or social justifications has been deliberate, and it stems from a belief that corporate America would better respond to justifications that centered on the corporate bottom line. However, recent empirical data reveals that despite the increased reliance on, and apparent acceptance of, market- or economic-based rationales for board diversity, there has been little change in actual board diversity. This Article …


Agency Costs, Charitable Trusts, And Corporate Control: Evidence From Hershey's Kiss-Off, Jonathan Klick, Robert H. Sitkoff May 2008

Agency Costs, Charitable Trusts, And Corporate Control: Evidence From Hershey's Kiss-Off, Jonathan Klick, Robert H. Sitkoff

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In July 2002 the trustees of the Milton Hershey School Trust announced a plan to diversify the Trust’s investment portfolio by selling the Trust’s controlling interest in the Hershey Company. The Company’s stock jumped from $62.50 to $78.30 on news of the proposed sale. But the Pennsylvania Attorney General, who was then running for governor, opposed the sale on the ground that it would harm the local community. Shortly after the Attorney General obtained a preliminary injunction, the trustees abandoned the sale and the Company’s stock dropped to $65.00. Using standard event study methodology, we find that the sale announcement …


Shareholder Democracy On Trial: International Perspective On The Effectiveness Of Increased Shareholder Power, Lisa Fairfax Apr 2008

Shareholder Democracy On Trial: International Perspective On The Effectiveness Of Increased Shareholder Power, Lisa Fairfax

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Shareholder democracy - efforts to increase shareholder power within the corporation - appears to have come of age, both within the United States and abroad. In the past few years, U.S. shareholders have worked to strengthen their voice within the corporation by seeking to remove perceived impediments to their voting authority. These impediments include classified boards, the plurality standard for board elections, and the inability to nominate directors on the corporation's ballot. Shareholders' efforts have also extended to seeking a voice on the compensation of corporate officers and directors. Advocates of shareholder democracy believe that such efforts are critical to …


Making The Corporation Safe For Shareholder Democracy, Lisa Fairfax Jan 2008

Making The Corporation Safe For Shareholder Democracy, Lisa Fairfax

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This article considers the effect that increased shareholder activism may have on non-shareholder corporate stakeholders such as employees and consumers. One of the most outspoken proponents of increased shareholder power has argued that such increased power could have negative repercussions for other corporate stakeholders because it would force directors to focus on profits without regard to other interests. This article critically examines that argument. The article acknowledges that increased shareholder power may benefit some stakeholders more than others, and may have some negative consequences. However, this article demonstrates that shareholders not only have interests that align with other stakeholders, but …


How Do Corporations Play Politics? The Fedex Story, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2005

How Do Corporations Play Politics? The Fedex Story, Jill E. Fisch

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Corporate political activity has been the subject of federal regulation since 1907, and the restrictions on corporate campaign contributions and other political expenditures continue to increase. Most recently, Congress banned soft money donations in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 ("BCRA"), a ban upheld by the Supreme Court in McConnell v. FEC. Significantly, although the omnibus BCRA clearly was not directed exclusively at corporations, the Supreme Court began its lengthy opinion in McConnell by referencing and endorsing the efforts of Elihu Root, more than a century ago, to prohibit corporate political contributions. Repeatedly, within the broad context of campaign …


Two Observations On Holocaust Claims, William W. Bratton Jan 2001

Two Observations On Holocaust Claims, William W. Bratton

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No abstract provided.


Taking Boards Seriously, Jill E. Fisch Jan 1997

Taking Boards Seriously, Jill E. Fisch

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No abstract provided.