Introduction to the Metaphors of Corporate Law

Seattle Journal for Social Justice, 2005

Utah Legal Studies Paper No.05-13

18 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2005


Corporate law is dominated by a series of metaphors that present corporations as private, individualized, egalitarian and market-like, hiding their organizational, institutional, political and power distributing aspects. These metaphors - property, contract/market, agency and individuality - drive current interpretations of the law but remain in strong conflict with it, in part because historic corporate law stemmed from explicitly political conceptions. Although the metaphors have taught us to ignore the group and institutional characteristics of corporations, treating them as powerless and passive players in the markets, corporations in fact are powerful governance and economic institutions.

Keywords: corporate law, political economy, corporate personality, agency, shareholder ownership, nexus of contracts

JEL Classification: B22, K22, I22, P12

Suggested Citation

Greenwood, Daniel J.H., Introduction to the Metaphors of Corporate Law. Seattle Journal for Social Justice, 2005, Utah Legal Studies Paper No.05-13, Available at SSRN:

Daniel J.H. Greenwood (Contact Author)

Hofstra University College of Law ( email )

121 Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549
United States
516-463-7013 (Phone)


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