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‘Nothing But Wind’? The Past and Future of Comparative Corporate Governance


Donald C. Clarke


George Washington University Law School

December 1, 2010

American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 59, No. 1, 2011
GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 583
GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 583

Abstract:     
Corporate law scholarship has come a long way since Bayless Manning some four decades ago famously pronounced it dead. Not only has doctrinal scholarship continued its project of critique and rationalization, but empirical and economic approaches have injected new life into the field.

Recent years have seen the rise of comparative corporate governance (CCG) as an increasingly mainstream approach within the world of corporate governance studies. This is a function partly of an increasing international orientation on the part of legal scholars and partly of an increasingly empirical turn in corporate law scholarship generally. Different practices in other jurisdictions present at least the possibility of natural experiments that attempt to find causal relationships between particular features of a corporate governance regime and real-world outcomes. This body of research has become particular relevant as we enter the second decade of the twenty-first century. The financial crisis has called into question many of our traditional ways of thinking about corporate governance and the relationship between business enterprises and the state. Are there other countries that do it better?

This article discusses what is unique about CCG as an approach to corporate governance studies. It begins by examining the concepts of corporate governance and comparative corporate governance, making the point that comparative corporate governance has in general been focused on agency problems between shareholders and managers but need not be so. It then looks at methodological issues in comparative corporate governance, critiquing in particular economic Darwinist theories and the failure of theories of international competition in corporate governance to incorporate the notion of comparative advantage. Finally, it reviews major lessons learned from this body of work and suggests direction for future research. Among other things, it calls for more comparative research into alternative business entities dubbed “uncorporations” by Larry Ribstein and into corporate governance in increasingly important economies such as China and India.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 37

Keywords: corporate governance, comparative law, comparative corporate law, comparative corporate governance

JEL Classification: D23, G30, K22, L20

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Date posted: August 3, 2011 ; Last revised: September 6, 2011

Suggested Citation

Clarke, Donald C., ‘Nothing But Wind’? The Past and Future of Comparative Corporate Governance (December 1, 2010). American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 59, No. 1, 2011; GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 583; GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 583. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1904099

Contact Information

Donald C. Clarke (Contact Author)
George Washington University Law School ( email )
2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States
202-994-2830 (Phone)
202-318-4479 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://docs.law.gwu.edu/facweb/dclarke/
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