Competing Concepts of the Corporation (a.k.a. Criteria? Just Say No)
Stephen M. Bainbridge
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law
January 10, 2005
UCLA School of Law, Law-Econ Research Paper No. 05-1
This essay was written for a forthcoming festschrift in honor of my UCLA School of Law colleague, coauthor, and friend William A. Klein. The conference is organized around Bill's claim that corporate law scholarship would benefit if scholars were more explicit about the normative criteria that motivate their analyses and policy recommendations. In pursuit thereof, Bill's "criteria project" identifies four broad categories of "criteria for good corporate laws": (1) fairness; (2) efficiency; (3) legitimacy and accountability; and (4) administrability. Within each broad category, one then finds a number of specific criteria. Scholars are then asked to identify those criteria that inform their work.
In this essay, I argue that the criteria project lacks an overall conception of the corporation. I further argue that one's selection of evaluative criteria cannot be appraised in isolation from the concepts of the corporation informing that selection. Hence, I echo a call made two decades ago by Professor Roberta Romano for scholars to be more explicit in setting out their "normative theory of the corporation and its place in the polity."
Number of Pages in PDF File: 20
Keywords: corporate law
JEL Classification: K22
Date posted: January 11, 2005