Forget Roger Rabbit — Is Corporate Purpose Being Framed?
24 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2014
Date Written: June 18, 2014
In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, questions of whether the corporation has a social or public purpose reemerged with vigor. While one would be hard-pressed to find a corporation that would argue against "sustainability" or "corporate social responsibility" per se, notions of corporations having a social purpose or considerations of corporate sustainability resurrect hotly contested questions concerning the proper purpose of the corporation. While sustainability proponents have been building their case for why corporations should care about more than profits, this essay argues that the case for sustainability or CSR cannot be successfully made without engaging with the entrenched norm of shareholder primacy. This essay makes the modest yet underexplored claim that any attempt to amend, rewrite, interrogate, or, at the extreme, debunk the shareholder primacy/private purpose view of the corporation must successfully counter the “framing effect” and “framing bias” that shareholder primacy enjoys.
Keywords: corporations, corporate governance, corporate purpose, framing effect, Seuss
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