Uncorporating the Large Firm

49 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2007

See all articles by Larry E. Ribstein

Larry E. Ribstein

University of Illinois College of Law (deceased); PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

Date Written: May 27, 2008


This article examines private equity firms as an example of partnership-type, or uncorporate, structures in the governance of large firms. Other examples include publicly traded partnerships, real estate investment trusts, hedge funds and venture capital funds. These firms can be seen as an alternative to the corporate form in dealing with the central problem of aligning managers' and owners' interests. In the standard corporate form, shareholders monitor powerful managers by voting on directors and corporate transactions, suing for breach of fiduciary duty and selling control. These mechanisms deal with managerial agency costs by relying on other agents, including auditors, class action lawyers, judges, independent directors and shareholder intermediaries such as mutual and pension funds. Uncorporations substitute other devices for corporate-type monitoring, including more closely tying managers' economic well-being to the firm's fortunes and greater assurance of distributions to owners. Continued concerns with managerial agency costs, the inadequacy of regulatory responses such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, changing costs and benefits of public ownership, leverage and capital lock-in all contribute to the rise of uncorporate structures in large firms. Political considerations may, however, constrain these developments.

Keywords: corporate governance, private equity, takeovers, partnerships

JEL Classification: G3, G34, K0, K2, K20, L2, L20

Suggested Citation

Ribstein, Larry Edward, Uncorporating the Large Firm (May 27, 2008). U Illinois Law & Economics Research Paper No. LE08-016 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1003790 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1003790

Larry Edward Ribstein (Contact Author)

University of Illinois College of Law (deceased)

PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

2048 Analysis Drive
Suite A
Bozeman, MT 59718
United States

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