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Corporate governance

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Moby-Dick As Corporate Catastrophe: Law, Ethics, And Redemption, David Yosifon Dec 2021

Moby-Dick As Corporate Catastrophe: Law, Ethics, And Redemption, David Yosifon

Faculty Publications

Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick serves here as a vehicle through which to interrogate core features of American corporate law and excavate some of the deeper lessons about the human soul that lurk behind the pasteboard mask of the law’s black letter. The inquiry yields an illuminating vantage on the ethical consequences of corporate capital structure, the law of corporate purpose, the meaning of voluntarism, the ethical stakes of corporate fiduciary obligations, and the role of lawyers in preventing or facilitating corporate catastrophe. No prior familiarity with the novel or corporate law is required.


Optimizing The World’S Leading Corporate Law: A 20-Year Retrospective And Look Ahead, Lawrence Hamermesh, Jack B. Jacobs, Leo E. Strine Jr. Oct 2021

Optimizing The World’S Leading Corporate Law: A 20-Year Retrospective And Look Ahead, Lawrence Hamermesh, Jack B. Jacobs, Leo E. Strine Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In a 2001 article (Function Over Form: A Reassessment of Standards of Review in Delaware Corporation Law) two of us, with important input from the other, argued that in addressing issues like hostile takeovers, assertive institutional investors, leveraged buyouts, and contested ballot questions, the Delaware courts had done exemplary work but on occasion crafted standards of review that unduly encouraged litigation and did not appropriately credit intra-corporate procedures designed to ensure fairness. Function Over Form suggested ways to make those standards more predictable, encourage procedures that better protected stockholders, and discourage meritless litigation, by restoring business judgment rule protection for ...


Mutual Fund Stewardship And The Empty Voting Problem, Jill E. Fisch Oct 2021

Mutual Fund Stewardship And The Empty Voting Problem, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

When Roberta Karmel wrote the articles that are the subject of this symposium, she was skeptical of both the potential value of shareholder voting and the emerging involvement of institutional investors in corporate governance. In the ensuing years, both the increased role and engagement of institutional investors and the heightened importance of shareholder voting offer new reasons to take Professor Karmel’s concerns seriously. Institutional investors have taken on a broader range of issues ranging from diversity and political spending to climate change and human capital management, and their ability to influence corporate policy on these issues has become more ...


Team Production Revisited, William W. Bratton Sep 2021

Team Production Revisited, William W. Bratton

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This Article reconsiders Margaret Blair and Lynn Stout’s team production model of corporate law, offering a favorable evaluation. The model explains both the legal corporate entity and corporate governance institutions in microeconomic terms as the means to the end of encouraging investment, situating corporations within markets and subject to market constraints but simultaneously insisting that productive success requires that corporations remain independent of markets. The model also integrates the inherited framework of corporate law into an economically derived model of production, constructing a microeconomic description of large enterprises firmly rooted in corporate doctrine but neither focused on nor limited ...


Corporate Governance And Financial Performance: An Empirical Study On Cement Companies Listed In Saudi Stock Market, Mohammed Bajaher Jul 2021

Corporate Governance And Financial Performance: An Empirical Study On Cement Companies Listed In Saudi Stock Market, Mohammed Bajaher

Jerash for Research and Studies Journal مجلة جرش للبحوث والدراسات

This paper investigates the impact of corporate governance on financial performance by cement firms listed in Saudi stock market during the period of 2012-2016. Many studies have examined the association between corporate governance mechanisms, ownership structure and firm performance, the most of them conducted in the developed countries, produced diverse findings, influenced by the nature of the dominant governance system for each country. Using the Least Ordinary Square (OLS), the results of the current study revealed that managerial ownership and firm size have a positive and significant impact on firm performance. However, board independence, board size, board meeting and audit ...


The Separation Of Voting And Control: The Role Of Contract In Corporate Governance, Gabriel V. Rauterberg Jun 2021

The Separation Of Voting And Control: The Role Of Contract In Corporate Governance, Gabriel V. Rauterberg

Articles

The default rules of corporate law make shareholders’ control rights a function of their voting power. Whether a director is elected or a merger is approved depends on how shareholders vote. Yet, in private corporations shareholders routinely alter their rights by contract. This phenomenon of shareholder agreements—contracts among the owners of a firm— has received far less attention than it deserves, mainly because detailed data about the actual contents of shareholder agreements has been lacking. Private companies disclose little, and shareholder agreements are thought to play a trivial or nonexistent role in public companies. I show that this is ...


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 ...


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

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

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 ...


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 ...


Reconsidering The Evolutionary Erosion Account Of Corporate Fiduciary Law, William W. Bratton Jan 2021

Reconsidering The Evolutionary Erosion Account Of Corporate Fiduciary Law, William W. Bratton

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This Article reconsiders the dominant account of corporate law’s duty of loyalty, which asserts that the courts have steadily relaxed standards of fiduciary scrutiny applied to self-dealing by corporate managers across more than a century of history—to the great detriment of the shareholder interest. The account originated in Harold Marsh, Jr.’s foundational article, Are Directors Trustees? Conflicts of Interest and Corporate Morality, published in The Business Lawyer in 1966. Marsh’s showing of historical lassitude has been successfully challenged in a recent book by Professor David Kershaw. This Article takes Professor Kershaw’s critique a step further ...


Delaware's Global Competitiveness, William J. Moon Jan 2021

Delaware's Global Competitiveness, William J. Moon

Faculty Scholarship

For about a hundred years, Delaware has been the leading jurisdiction for corporate law in the United States. The state, which deliberately embarked on a mission to build a haven for corporate law in the early twentieth century, now supplies corporate charters to over two thirds of Fortune 500 companies and a growing share of closely held companies. But Delaware’s domestic dominance masks the important and yet underexamined issue of whether Delaware maintains its competitive edge globally.

This Article examines Delaware’s global competitiveness, documenting Delaware’s surprising weakness competing in the emerging international market for corporate charters. It ...


A Revised Monitoring Model Confronts Today's Movement Toward Managerialism, Randall S. Thomas, James D. Cox Jan 2021

A Revised Monitoring Model Confronts Today's Movement Toward Managerialism, Randall S. Thomas, James D. Cox

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

There are many lessons to be drawn from the sweep of history. In law, the compelling story repeatedly told is the observable co-movement of law on the one hand, and economic, social, and political changes on the other hand. Aberrations, however, do arise but generally do not persist in the long term. Contemporary corporate law seems to be on the cusp of such an abnormality as legal developments and proposed reforms for corporate law are currently conflicting with the direction in which the host environment is moving. This article identifies a series of contemporary judicial and regulatory corporate governance developments ...


Codetermination In Theory And Practice, Grant M. Hayden, Matthew T. Bodie Jan 2021

Codetermination In Theory And Practice, Grant M. Hayden, Matthew T. Bodie

All Faculty Scholarship

A system of shared corporate governance between shareholders and workers, codetermination has been mostly ignored within the U.S. corporate governance literature. When it has made an appearance, it has largely served as a foil for shareholder primacy and an example of corporate deviance. However, over the last twenty years—and especially in the last five—empirical research on codetermination has shown surprising results as to the system’s efficiency, resilience, and benefits to stakeholders. This Article reviews the extant American legal scholarship on codetermination and provides a fresh look at the current state of codetermination theory and practice. Rather ...


The Millennial Corporation, Michal Barzuza, Quinn Curtis, David Webber Jan 2021

The Millennial Corporation, Michal Barzuza, Quinn Curtis, David Webber

Faculty Scholarship

In a prior paper, Shareholder Value(s): Index Fund ESG Activism and The New Millennial Corporate Governance, we argued that the index funds’ sudden shift towards socially-responsible investment, after decades of ignoring or opposing it, was driven by the competition to manage growing Millennial wealth. In our view, the main contribution of that paper was identifying sharp differences between Millennials and prior generations over investment, consumption, and employment. It has now become clear that this contribution has implications far beyond index-fund environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) activism and is in fact completely transforming the corporate world, marking a fundamental shift ...


Shareholder Primacy And The Moral Obligation Of Directors, Mark J. Loewenstein, Jay Geyer Jan 2021

Shareholder Primacy And The Moral Obligation Of Directors, Mark J. Loewenstein, Jay Geyer

Articles

One of the most written-about and important topics in corporate law is the fiduciary obligations of corporate directors. Increasingly, critics of American capitalism have urged that corporations, and implicitly, corporate directors, act in a more socially responsible fashion and thus eschew the notion that shareholder primacy is the exclusive guide to a director’s fiduciary duty. Under this view, directors must consider the effect of their actions on “stakeholders” other than shareholders and be guided by morality—doing the right thing—when making business judgments.

When directors move away from shareholder primacy, however, decision-making becomes more difficult and problematic. This ...


A Revised Monitoring Model Confronts Today's Movement Toward Managerialism, James D. Cox, Randall S. Thomas Jan 2021

A Revised Monitoring Model Confronts Today's Movement Toward Managerialism, James D. Cox, Randall S. Thomas

Faculty Scholarship

There are many lessons to be drawn from the sweep of history. In law, the compelling story repeatedly told is the observable co-movement of law on the one hand, and economic, social, and political changes on the other hand. Aberrations, however, do arise but generally do not persist in the long term. Contemporary corporate law seems to be on the cusp of such an abnormality as legal developments and proposed reforms for corporate law are currently conflicting with the direction in which the host environment is moving. This article identifies a series of contemporary judicial and regulatory corporate governance developments ...


Whistleblowers: Implications For Corporate Governance, Deborah A. Demott Jan 2021

Whistleblowers: Implications For Corporate Governance, Deborah A. Demott

Faculty Scholarship

Often overlooked in academic accounts of corporate governance and the actors who populate governance structures, whistleblowers are no more visible in formal governance frameworks. Within a corporation, whistleblowers may be lower-rank employees, not directors or officers; they may report perceptions of wrongdoing to others within the corporation or inform governmental or other actors who are externally situated. Nonetheless, it is striking how often retrospective accounts of corporate scandals involve episodes of internal whistleblowing associated with governance and compliance failures. This paper argues that incorporating whistleblowers into formal governance structures could spur more proactive involvement by directors in monitoring compliance with ...


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 ...


From Mandates To Governance: Restructuring The Employment Relationship, Brett Mcdonnell, Matthew T. Bodie Jan 2021

From Mandates To Governance: Restructuring The Employment Relationship, Brett Mcdonnell, Matthew T. Bodie

All Faculty Scholarship

Employers are saddled with a dizzying array of responsibilities to their employees. Meant to advance a wide array of workplace policies, these demands have saddled employment with the burden of numerous social ends. However, that system has increasingly come under strain, as companies seek to shed employment relationships and workers lose important protections when terminated. In this Article, we propose that employers and employees should be given greater flexibility with a move from mandates to governance. Many of the employment protections required from employers stem from employees’ lack of organizational power. The imbalance is best addressed by providing workers with ...


From Mandates To Governance: Restructuring The Employment Relationship, Brett H. Mcdonnell, Matthew T. Bodie Jan 2021

From Mandates To Governance: Restructuring The Employment Relationship, Brett H. Mcdonnell, Matthew T. Bodie

All Faculty Scholarship

Employers are saddled with a dizzying array of responsibilities to their employees. Meant to advance a wide array of workplace policies, these demands have saddled employment with the burden of numerous social ends. However, that system has increasingly come under strain, as companies seek to shed employment relationships and workers lose important protections when terminated. In this Article, we propose that employers and employees should be given greater flexibility with a move from mandates to governance. Many of the employment protections required from employers stem from employees’ lack of organizational power. The imbalance is best addressed by providing workers with ...


Synthetic Governance, Byung Hyun Anh, Jill E. Fisch, Panos N. Patatoukas, Steven Davidoff Solomon Jan 2021

Synthetic Governance, Byung Hyun Anh, Jill E. Fisch, Panos N. Patatoukas, Steven Davidoff Solomon

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Although securities regulation is distinct from corporate governance, the two fields have considerable substantive overlap. By increasing the transparency and efficiency of the capital markets, securities regulation can also enhance the capacity of those markets to discipline governance decisions. The importance of market discipline is heightened by the increasingly vocal debate over what constitutes “good” corporate governance.

Securities product innovation offers new tools to address this debate. The rise of index-based investing provides a market-based mechanism for selecting among governance options and evaluating their effects. Through the creation of bespoke governance index funds, asset managers can create indexes that correspond ...


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

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

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

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 ...


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

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

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Corporate purpose is the hot topic in corporate governance. Critics are calling for corporations to shift their purpose away from shareholder value as a means of addressing climate change, equity and inclusion, and other social values. We argue that this debate has overlooked the critical predicate questions of whether a corporation should have a purpose at all and, if so, what role it serves.

We start by exploring and rejecting historical, doctrinal, and theoretical bases for corporate purpose. We challenge the premise that purpose can serve a useful function either as a legal constraint on managerial discretion or as a ...


Unlocking Progressive Corporate Governance: The Black And Brown Hdfc Key, Gregory Louis Jan 2021

Unlocking Progressive Corporate Governance: The Black And Brown Hdfc Key, Gregory Louis

American University Business Law Review

No abstract provided.


Restoration: The Role Stakeholder Governance Must Play In Recreating A Fair And Sustainable American Economy A Reply To Professor Rock, Leo E. Strine Jr. Dec 2020

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

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


Federal Forum Provisions And The Internal Affairs Doctrine, Dhruv Aggarwal, Albert H. Choi, Ofer Eldar Aug 2020

Federal Forum Provisions And The Internal Affairs Doctrine, Dhruv Aggarwal, Albert H. Choi, Ofer Eldar

Articles

A key question at the intersection of state and federal law is whether corpo- rations can use their charters or bylaws to restrict securities litigation to federal court. In December 2018, the Delaware Chancery Court answered this question in the negative in the landmark decision Sciabacucchi v. Salzberg. The court invalidated “federal forum provisions” (“FFPs”) that allow companies to select federal district courts as the exclusive venue for claims brought under the Secur- ities Act of 1933 (“1933 Act”). The decision held that the internal affairs doc- trine, which is the bedrock of U.S. corporate law, does not permit ...


Climbing To 1011: Globalization, Digitization,Shareholder Capitalism And The Summits Of Contemporary Wealth, David A. Westbrook Jun 2020

Climbing To 1011: Globalization, Digitization,Shareholder Capitalism And The Summits Of Contemporary Wealth, David A. Westbrook

Journal Articles

While we may find many sorts of inequality in the United States and elsewhere, this essay is about the specific form of inequality exemplified by Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates, that is, the Himalayan summits of contemporary wealth, mostly in the United States. Such wealth results from the confluence of three historical developments.

First, the social processes referred to under the rubric of “globalization” have created vast markets. A dominant position in such markets leads not only to great wealth, but the elimination of peers. Since there are few such markets, relatively significant wealth is possessed by very few people ...