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Then and Now: Professor Berle and the Unpredictable Shareholder

26 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2010  

Jennifer G. Hill

The University of Sydney Law School ; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Date Written: June 28, 2010


This article is published in a special symposium edition on the work of Adolf Berle, which includes papers from a conference, In Berle’s Footsteps, held in November 2009 to celebrate the launch of the Adolf A. Berle, Jr. Center on Corporations, Law and Society.

Shareholders, and the relationship between shareholders and management, lay at the heart of Professor Berle’s scholarship. The goal of this Article is to compare the image of shareholders emerging from The Modern Corporation and Private Property and the Berle/Dodd debate with a range of contemporary visions of the shareholder that underpin some international regulatory responses to recent financial debacles, from Enron to the current global financial crisis. As the Article discusses, these recent developments in the era of financial crises, including the US shareholder empowerment debate, have prompted a re-evaluation of the traditional image of the shareholder and the role of the shareholder in the modern corporation that emerged in Professor Berle’s work.

Keywords: The Modern Corporation and Private Property, Berle-Dodd debate, shareholder protection, shareholder empowerment, shareholder primacy, corporate governance, corporate theory, Enron, corporate scandals, global financial crisis, executive remuneration

JEL Classification: D70, G01, G30, G32, G34, G38, K20, K22, K33, N20, M14

Suggested Citation

Hill, Jennifer G., Then and Now: Professor Berle and the Unpredictable Shareholder (June 28, 2010). Seattle University Law Review, Vol. 33, No. 4, pp. 1005-1023, 2010; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 10/58; Vanderbilt Law and Economics Research Paper No. 10-17; ECGI - Law Working Paper No. 163/2010. Available at SSRN:

Jennifer G. Hill (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
+61 2 9351 0280 (Phone)
+61 2 9351 0200 (Fax)

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

B-1050 Brussels

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