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Full-Text Articles in Law

Cleaning Corporate Governance, Jens Frankenreiter, Cathy Hwang, Yaron Nili, Eric L. Talley Jan 2021

Cleaning Corporate Governance, Jens Frankenreiter, Cathy Hwang, Yaron Nili, Eric L. Talley

Faculty Scholarship

Although empirical scholarship dominates the field of law and finance, much of it shares a common vulnerability: an abiding faith in the accuracy and integrity of a small, specialized collection of corporate governance data. In this paper, we unveil a novel collection of three decades’ worth of corporate charters for thousands of public companies, which shows that this faith is misplaced.

We make three principal contributions to the literature. First, we label our corpus for a variety of firm- and state-level governance features. Doing so reveals significant infirmities within the most well-known corporate governance datasets, including an error rate exceeding ...


Shareholder Value(S): Index Fund Esg Activism And The New Millennial Corporate Governance, David Webber, Michal Barzuza, Quinn Curtis Sep 2020

Shareholder Value(S): Index Fund Esg Activism And The New Millennial Corporate Governance, David Webber, Michal Barzuza, Quinn Curtis

Faculty Scholarship

Major index fund operators have been criticized as ineffective stewards of the firms in which they are now the largest shareholders. While scholars debate whether this passivity is a serious problem, index funds’ generally docile approach to ownership is broadly acknowledged.

However, this Article argues that the notion that index funds are passive owners overlooks an important dimension in which index funds have demonstrated outspoken, confrontational, and effective stewardship. Specifically, we document that index funds have taken a leading role in challenging management and voting
against directors in order to advance board diversity and corporate sustainability. We show that index ...


Toward A Mission Statement For Mutual Funds In Shareholder Litigation, Sean J. Griffith, Dorothy Lund Jan 2020

Toward A Mission Statement For Mutual Funds In Shareholder Litigation, Sean J. Griffith, Dorothy Lund

Faculty Scholarship

This paper analyzes the conduct of mutual funds in shareholder litigation. We begin by reviewing the basic forms of shareholder litigation and the benefits such claims might offer mutual fund investors. We then investigate, though an in-depth docket review, whether and how the ten largest mutual funds participate in shareholder litigation. We find that although shareholder suits offer potential benefits, the largest mutual funds have essentially forfeited their use of litigation. This finding is particularly striking given that index funds and other long-term oriented mutual funds generally cannot sell their shares when they are dissatisfied with company performance, leaving them ...


Tepoel Lecture: Bond Trustees And The Rising Challenge Of Activist Investors, Steven L. Schwarcz Jan 2020

Tepoel Lecture: Bond Trustees And The Rising Challenge Of Activist Investors, Steven L. Schwarcz

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Board Compliance, John Armour, Brandon Garrett, Jeffrey Gordon, Geeyoung Min Jan 2020

Board Compliance, John Armour, Brandon Garrett, Jeffrey Gordon, Geeyoung Min

Faculty Scholarship

What role do corporate boards play in compliance? Compliance programs are internal enforcement programs, whereby firms train, monitor and discipline employees with respect to applicable laws and regulations. Corporate enforcement and compliance failures could not be more high-profile, and have placed boards in the position of responding to systemic problems. Both case law on boards’ fiduciary duties and guidance from prosecutors suggest that the board should have a continuing role in overseeing compliance activity. Yet very little is actually known about the role of boards in compliance. This paper offers the first empirical account of public companies’ engagement with compliance ...


The Covid-19 Pandemic And Business Law: A Series Of Posts From The Oxford Business Law Blog, Gert-Jan Boon, Markus K. Brunnermeier, Horst Eidenmueller, Luca Enriques, Aurelio Gurrea-Martínez, Kathryn Judge, Jean-Pierre Landau, Marco Pagano, Ricardo Reis, Kristin Van Zwieten Jan 2020

The Covid-19 Pandemic And Business Law: A Series Of Posts From The Oxford Business Law Blog, Gert-Jan Boon, Markus K. Brunnermeier, Horst Eidenmueller, Luca Enriques, Aurelio Gurrea-Martínez, Kathryn Judge, Jean-Pierre Landau, Marco Pagano, Ricardo Reis, Kristin Van Zwieten

Faculty Scholarship

The COVID-19 Pandemic is the biggest challenge for the world since World War Two, warned UN Secretary General, António Guterres, on 1 April 2020. Millions of lives may be lost. The threat to our livelihoods is extreme as well. Job losses worldwide may exceed 25 million.

Legal systems are under extreme stress too. Contracts are disrupted, judicial services suspended, and insolvency procedures tested. Quarantine regulations threaten constitutional liberties. However, laws can also be a powerful tool to contain the effects of the pandemic on our lives and reduce its economic fallout. To achieve this goal, rules designed for normal times ...


Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls: Fiduciary Duties In Venture Capital Backed Startups, Sarath Sanga, Eric L. Talley Jan 2020

Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls: Fiduciary Duties In Venture Capital Backed Startups, Sarath Sanga, Eric L. Talley

Faculty Scholarship

Venture-capital-backed startups are often crucibles of conflict between common and preferred shareholders, particularly around exit decisions. Such conflicts are so common, in fact, that they have catalyzed an emergent judicial precedent – the Trados doctrine – that requires boards to prioritize common shareholders' interest and to treat preferred shareholders as contractual claimants. We evaluate the Trados doctrine using a model of startup governance that interacts capital structure, corporate governance, and liability rules. The nature and degree of inter-shareholder conflict turns not only on the relative rights and options of equity participants, but also on a firm's intrinsic value as well as ...


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 ...


The Curse Of Bigness: New Deal Supplement, Tim Wu Jan 2020

The Curse Of Bigness: New Deal Supplement, Tim Wu

Faculty Scholarship

This is a supplement to the book, The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age. It covers the years between 1920 - 1945, with a focus on the New Deal, and represents material left out of the original book.

It is meant to be read together with the larger volume, but can also be read separately.


Shifting Influences On Corporate Governance: Capital Market Completeness And Policy Channeling, Ronald J. Gilson, Curtis J. Milhaupt Jan 2020

Shifting Influences On Corporate Governance: Capital Market Completeness And Policy Channeling, Ronald J. Gilson, Curtis J. Milhaupt

Faculty Scholarship

Corporate governance scholarship is typically portrayed as driven by single factor models, for example, shareholder value maximization, director primacy or team production. These governance models are Copernican; one factor is or should be the center of the corporate governance solar system. In this essay, we argue that, as with binary stars, the shape of the governance system is at any time the result of the interaction of two central influences, which we refer to as capital market completeness and policy channeling. In contrast to single factor models, which reflect a stable normative statement of what should drive corporate governance, in ...


Global Investor-Director Survey On Climate Risk Management, Kristin Bresnahan, Jens Frankenreiter, Sophie L'Helias, Brea Hinricks, Nina Hodzic, Julian Nyarko, Sneha Pandya, Eric L. Talley Jan 2020

Global Investor-Director Survey On Climate Risk Management, Kristin Bresnahan, Jens Frankenreiter, Sophie L'Helias, Brea Hinricks, Nina Hodzic, Julian Nyarko, Sneha Pandya, Eric L. Talley

Faculty Scholarship

Changes in the global climate are having profound impacts on business operations, governance, and organizational management around the world. Boards of directors are searching for ways to account for these changes as they help guide their organizations, and investors are increasingly concerned about how these changes might impact their portfolios. This global survey, conducted by a team of researchers at the Ira M. Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership at Columbia Law School and experts at LeaderXXchange, seeks to understand how – if at all – institutional investors and board directors incorporate climate-related issues in their investment decision making and ...


Index Funds And The Future Of Corporate Governance: Theory, Evidence, And Policy, Scott Hirst Sep 2019

Index Funds And The Future Of Corporate Governance: Theory, Evidence, And Policy, Scott Hirst

Faculty Scholarship

Index funds own an increasingly large proportion of American public companies. The stewardship decisions of index fund managers—how they monitor, vote, and engage with their portfolio companies—can be expected to have a profound impact on the governance and performance of public companies and the economy. Understanding index fund stewardship, and how policymaking can improve it, is thus critical for corporate law scholarship. In this Article we contribute to such understanding by providing a comprehensive theoretical, empirical, and policy analysis of index fund stewardship.

We begin by putting forward an agency-costs theory of index fund incentives. Stewardship decisions by ...


Reforming Pensions While Retaining Shareholder Voice, David Webber May 2019

Reforming Pensions While Retaining Shareholder Voice, David Webber

Faculty Scholarship

Public pension and labor union funds have been the driving force in diversified shareholder activism. They have also fended off attacks on jobs and proactively created jobs for fund contributors. These funds currently represent almost $4 trillion in assets over which workers have substantial control. That worker control - and the collective nature of defined benefit pension plans - is the necessary precondition for their shareholder activism. Both worker control and collective investment are directly threatened by the rise of defined contribution funds, particularly by well-funded efforts to promote the 401(k) in the public sector, the last bastion of the traditional ...


The Enduring Distinction Between Business Entities And Security Interests, Ofer Eldar, Andrew Verstein Jan 2019

The Enduring Distinction Between Business Entities And Security Interests, Ofer Eldar, Andrew Verstein

Faculty Scholarship

What are business entities for? What are security interests for? The prevailing answer in legal scholarship is that both bodies of law exist to partition assets for the benefit of designated creditors. But if both bodies of law partition assets, then what distinguishes them? In fact, these bodies of law appear to be converging as increasing flexibility irons out any differences. Indeed, many legal products, such as securitization vehicles, insurance products known as captive insurance, and mutual funds, employ entities to create distinct asset pools. Moreover, recent legal innovations, such as “protected cells,” which were created to facilitate such products ...


Private Equity's Governance Advantage: A Requiem, Elisabeth De Fontenay Jan 2019

Private Equity's Governance Advantage: A Requiem, Elisabeth De Fontenay

Faculty Scholarship

Private equity’s original purpose was to optimize companies’ governance and operations. Reuniting ownership and control in corporate America, the leveraged buyout (or the mere threat thereof) undoubtedly helped reform management practices in a broad swath of U.S. companies. Due to mounting competitive pressures, however, private equity is finding relatively fewer underperforming companies to fix. This is particularly true of U.S. public companies, which are continuously dogged by activist hedge funds and other empowered shareholders looking for any sign of slack.

In response, private equity is shifting its center of gravity away from governance reform, towards a dizzying ...


Revolving Elites: The Unexplored Risk Of Capturing The Sec, James D. Cox, Randall S. Thomas Jan 2019

Revolving Elites: The Unexplored Risk Of Capturing The Sec, James D. Cox, Randall S. Thomas

Faculty Scholarship

Fears have abounded for years that the sweet spot for capture of regulatory agencies is the "revolving door" whereby civil servants migrate from their roles as regulators to private industry. Recent scholarship on this topic has examined whether America's watchdog for securities markets, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), is hobbled by the long-standing practices of its enforcement staff exiting their jobs at the Commission and migrating to lucrative private sector employment where they represent those they once regulated. The research to date has been inconclusive on whether staff revolving door practices have weakened the SEC' s verve. In ...


Corporate Governance For Sustainability, Andrew Johnston, Jeroen Veldman, Robert G. Eccles, Simon Deakin, Jerry Davis, Marie-Laure Djelic, Katharina Pistor, Blanche Segrestin, William M. Gentry, Cynthia A. Williams, David Millon, Paddy Ireland, Beate Sjåfjell, Christopher M. Bruner, Lorraine E. Talbot, Hugh Christopher Willmott, Charlotte Villiers, Carol Liao, Bertrand Valiorgue, Jason Glynos, Todd L. Sayre, Bronwen Morgan, Rick Wartzman, Prem Sikka, Filip Gregor, David Carroll Jacobs, Roger Gill, Roger Brown, Vincenzo Bavoso, Neil Lancastle, Julie Matthaei, Scott Taylor, Ulf Larsson-Olaison, Jay Cullen, Alan J. Dignam, Thomas Wuil Joo, Ciarán O'Kelly, Con Keating, Roman Tomasic, Simon Lilley, Kevin Tennent, Keith Robson, Willy Maley, Iris H-Y Chiu, Ewan Mcgaughey, Chris Rees, Nina Boeger, Adam Leaver, Marc T. Moore, Leen Paape, Alan D. Meyer, Marcello Palazzi, Nitasha Kaul, Juan Felipe Espinosa-Cristia, Timothy Kuhn, David J. Cooper, Susanne Soederberg, Andreas Jansson, Susan Watson, Ofer Sitbon, Joan Loughrey, David Collison, Maureen Mcculloch, Navajyoti Samanta, Daniel J.H. Greenwood, Grahame F. Thompson, Andrew R. Keay, Alessia Contu, Andreas Rühmkorf, Richard Hull, Irene-Marie Esser, Nihel Chabrak Jan 2019

Corporate Governance For Sustainability, Andrew Johnston, Jeroen Veldman, Robert G. Eccles, Simon Deakin, Jerry Davis, Marie-Laure Djelic, Katharina Pistor, Blanche Segrestin, William M. Gentry, Cynthia A. Williams, David Millon, Paddy Ireland, Beate Sjåfjell, Christopher M. Bruner, Lorraine E. Talbot, Hugh Christopher Willmott, Charlotte Villiers, Carol Liao, Bertrand Valiorgue, Jason Glynos, Todd L. Sayre, Bronwen Morgan, Rick Wartzman, Prem Sikka, Filip Gregor, David Carroll Jacobs, Roger Gill, Roger Brown, Vincenzo Bavoso, Neil Lancastle, Julie Matthaei, Scott Taylor, Ulf Larsson-Olaison, Jay Cullen, Alan J. Dignam, Thomas Wuil Joo, Ciarán O'Kelly, Con Keating, Roman Tomasic, Simon Lilley, Kevin Tennent, Keith Robson, Willy Maley, Iris H-Y Chiu, Ewan Mcgaughey, Chris Rees, Nina Boeger, Adam Leaver, Marc T. Moore, Leen Paape, Alan D. Meyer, Marcello Palazzi, Nitasha Kaul, Juan Felipe Espinosa-Cristia, Timothy Kuhn, David J. Cooper, Susanne Soederberg, Andreas Jansson, Susan Watson, Ofer Sitbon, Joan Loughrey, David Collison, Maureen Mcculloch, Navajyoti Samanta, Daniel J.H. Greenwood, Grahame F. Thompson, Andrew R. Keay, Alessia Contu, Andreas Rühmkorf, Richard Hull, Irene-Marie Esser, Nihel Chabrak

Faculty Scholarship

The current model of corporate governance needs reform. There is mounting evidence that the practices of shareholder primacy drive company directors and executives to adopt the same short time horizon as financial markets. Pressure to meet the demands of the financial markets drives stock buybacks, excessive dividends and a failure to invest in productive capabilities. The result is a ‘tragedy of the horizon’, with corporations and their shareholders failing to consider environmental, social or even their own, long-term, economic sustainability.

With less than a decade left to address the threat of climate change, and with consensus emerging that businesses need ...


The Core Corporate Governance Puzzle: Contextualizing The Link To Performance, Merritt B. Fox, Ronald J. Gilson, Darius Palia Jan 2019

The Core Corporate Governance Puzzle: Contextualizing The Link To Performance, Merritt B. Fox, Ronald J. Gilson, Darius Palia

Faculty Scholarship

There is a puzzle at the core of corporate governance theory. Prior scholarship reports a strong relationship between firms best at creating shareholder value and those rated highly by the established corporate governance indices. Little work explores why, however. We hypothesize that the link between governance and performance depends centrally on context. We illustrate the importance of context by exploring circumstances when a firm's governance structure can operate as a signal of the quality of its management. The idea is that better managers are on average more likely to choose a highly rated governance structure than are bad managers ...


The Public Cost Of Private Equity, William Magnuson May 2018

The Public Cost Of Private Equity, William Magnuson

Faculty Scholarship

This Article presents a theory of the corporate governance costs of private equity. In doing so, it challenges the common view that private equity’s governance structure has resolved, or at least significantly mitigated, one of the fundamental tensions in corporate law, that is, the conflict between management and ownership. The Article argues that this widespread perception about the corporate governance benefits of private equity overlooks the many ways in which the private equity model, far from eliminating agency costs, in fact exacerbates them. These governance costs include compensation structures that incentivize excessive risk-taking, governance rights that provide investors with ...


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 ...


Delaware's Retreat: Exploring Developing Fissures And Tectonic Shifts In Delaware Corporate Law, James D. Cox, Randall S. Thomas Jan 2018

Delaware's Retreat: Exploring Developing Fissures And Tectonic Shifts In Delaware Corporate Law, James D. Cox, Randall S. Thomas

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Individual Autonomy In Corporate Law, Elisabeth De Fontenay Jan 2018

Individual Autonomy In Corporate Law, Elisabeth De Fontenay

Faculty Scholarship

The field of corporate law is riven with competing visions of the corporation. This Article seeks to identify points of broad agreement by negative implication. It examines two developments in corporate law that have drawn widespread criticism from corporate law scholars: the Supreme Court's recognition of corporate religious rights in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and the Nevada legislature's decision to eliminate mandatory fiduciary duties for corporate directors and officers. Despite their fundamental differences, both resulted in expanding individual rights or autonomy within the corporation-for shareholders and managers, respectively.

The visceral critiques aimed at these two developments suggest a ...


Too Big To Fool: Moral Hazard, Bailouts, And Corporate Responsibility, Steven L. Schwarcz Jan 2017

Too Big To Fool: Moral Hazard, Bailouts, And Corporate Responsibility, Steven L. Schwarcz

Faculty Scholarship

Domestic and international regulatory efforts to prevent another financial crisis have been converging on the idea of trying to end the problem of “too big to fail”—that systemically important financial firms take excessive risks because they profit from success and are (or at least, expect to be) bailed out by government money to avoid failure. The legal solutions being advanced to control this morally hazardous behavior tend, however, to be inefficient, ineffective, or even dangerous—such as breaking up firms and limiting their size, which can reduce economies of scale and scope; or restricting central bank authority to bail ...


Controlling Systemic Risk Through Corporate Governance, Steven L. Schwarcz Jan 2017

Controlling Systemic Risk Through Corporate Governance, Steven L. Schwarcz

Faculty Scholarship

Most of the regulatory measures to control excessive risk taking by systemically important firms are designed to reduce moral hazard and to align the interests of managers and investors. These measures may be flawed because they are based on questionable assumptions. Excessive corporate risk taking is, at its core, a corporate governance problem. Shareholder primacy requires managers to view the consequences of their firm’s risk taking only from the standpoint of the firm and its shareholders, ignoring harm to the public. In governing, managers of systemically important firms should also consider public harm. This proposal engages the long-standing debate ...


The Role Of Social Enterprise And Hybrid Organizations, Ofer Eldar Jan 2017

The Role Of Social Enterprise And Hybrid Organizations, Ofer Eldar

Faculty Scholarship

Recent years have brought remarkable growth in hybrid organizations that combine profit-seeking and social missions. Despite popular enthusiasm for such organizations, legal reforms to facilitate their formation and growth—particularly, legal forms for hybrid firms—have largely been ineffective. This shortcoming stems in large part from the lack of a theory that identifies the structural and functional elements that make some types of hybrid organizations more effective than others. In pursuit of such a theory, this Article focuses on a large class of hybrid organizations that has been effective in addressing development problems, such as increasing access to capital and ...


Regulatory Competition And The Market For Corporate Law, Ofer Eldar, Lorenzo Magnolfi Jan 2017

Regulatory Competition And The Market For Corporate Law, Ofer Eldar, Lorenzo Magnolfi

Faculty Scholarship

This article develops an empirical model of firms’ choice of corporate laws under inertia. Delaware dominates the incorporation market, though recently Nevada, a state whose laws are highly protective of managers, has acquired a sizable market share. Using a novel database of incorporation decisions from 1995- 2013, we show that most firms dislike protectionist laws, such as anti-takeover statutes and liability protections for officers, and that Nevada’s rise is due to the preferences of small firms.Our estimates indicate that despite inertia, Delaware would lose significant market share and revenues if it adopted protectionist laws. Our findings support the ...


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 Officers As Agents, Deborah A. Demott Jan 2017

Corporate Officers As Agents, Deborah A. Demott

Faculty Scholarship

Although officers are crucial to corporate operations, scholarly and theoretical accounts tend to slight officers and amalgamate them with directors into a single category, "managers." This essay anchors officers within the common law of agency-as does black-letter law-which crisply differentiates officers from directors. Understanding that agency is central of the legal account of officers' positions and responsibilities is crucial to seeing why, like directors, officers are fiduciaries, but distinctively so, not as instances of generic "corporate fiduciaries." Officers, like directors, owe duties of loyalty, but also particularized duties of care, competence, and diligence. Additionally, officers' duties of performance encompass two ...


Rethinking Corporate Governance For A Bondholder Financed, Systemically Risky World, Steven L. Schwarcz Jan 2017

Rethinking Corporate Governance For A Bondholder Financed, Systemically Risky World, Steven L. Schwarcz

Faculty Scholarship

This Article makes two arguments that, combined, demonstrate an important synergy: first, including bondholders in corporate governance could help to reduce systemic risk because bondholders are more risk averse than shareholders; second, corporate governance should include bondholders because bonds now dwarf equity as a source of corporate financing and bond prices are increasingly tied to firm performance.


Law And Corporate Governance, Robert P. Bartlett, Eric L. Talley Jan 2017

Law And Corporate Governance, Robert P. Bartlett, Eric L. Talley

Faculty Scholarship

Pragmatic and effective research on corporate governance often turns critically on appreciating the legal institutions surrounding corporate entities – yet such nuances are often unfamiliar or poorly specified to economists and other social scientists without legal training. This chapter organizes and discusses key legal concepts of corporate governance, including statutes, regulations, and jurisprudential doctrines that “govern governance” in private and public companies, with concentration on the for-profit corporation. We review the literature concerning the nature and purpose of the corporation, the objects of fiduciary obligations, the means for decision making within the firm, as well as the overlay of state and ...