Binding Capital to Free Purpose: Steward Ownership in Germany

25 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2022

See all articles by Anne Sanders

Anne Sanders

Bielefeld University; University of Bergen - Faculty of Law

Date Written: January 28, 2022


This paper discusses steward ownership, a concept of business ownership aiming at long-term and purpose-oriented entrepreneurship developed in Germany. Steward ownership can be seen in the context of the current worldwide discussion of corporate purpose and legal innovations like the US-American benefit corporation and the French société a mission, but has developed a unique approach. The concept is currently put into practice using German company law and the law of foundations. However, in the coalition agreement of the current German government, a new legal form is envisaged to facilitate the founding of steward owned businesses. The paper presents the concepts and discusses a draft law developed as food for thought for the legislator.

Keywords: steward ownership, corporate purpose, corporate law, Verwantwortungseigentum

JEL Classification: K20, K22, K29

Suggested Citation

Sanders, Anne, Binding Capital to Free Purpose: Steward Ownership in Germany (January 28, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Anne Sanders (Contact Author)

Bielefeld University

Universitätsstraße 25
Bielefeld, NRW 33613

University of Bergen - Faculty of Law ( email )


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