Benefit Corporations: A Challenge in Corporate Governance
Mark J. Loewenstein, 68(4): 1007-1038 (August 2013)
Benefit corporations are a new form of business entity that is rapidly being adopted around the country. Though the legislations varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, most statutes are based on a model proposed and promoted by B Lab, itself a nonprofit corporation. The essence of these statutes is that, in making business judgments, the directors of a benefit corporation must take into account the impact of their decisions on the environment and society. The model legislation, though, may create serious governance issuance for the directors of benefit corporations that operate under these laws. This article analyzes the model legislation and identifies its weaknesses, particularly with respect to governance issues.
Benefit Corporation White Paper
Corporate Laws committee, ABA Business Law Section, 68(4): 1083-1110 (August 2013)
Securing Our Nation’s Economic Future: A Sensible, Nonpartisan Agenda to Increase Long-Term Investment and Job Creation in the United States
Leo E. Strine, Jr., 71(4): 1081-1112 (Fall 2016)
These days it has become fashionable to talk about whether the incentive system for the governance of American corporations optimally encourages long-term investment, sustainable policies, and therefore creates the most long-term economic and social benefit for American workers and investors. Many have come to the conclusion that the answer to that question is no. As these commentators note, the investment horizon of the ultimate source of most equity capital—human beings who must give their money to institutional investors to save for retirement and college for their kids—is long. That horizon is much more aligned with what it takes to run a real business than that of the direct stockholders, who are money managers and are under strong pressure to deliver immediate returns at all times. Americans want corporations that are focused on sustainable wealth and job creation. But there is too little talk accompanied by a specific policy agenda to address that incentive system.
This Article proposes a genuine, realistic agenda that would better promote a sustainable, long-term commitment to economic growth in the United States. This agenda should not divide Americans along party lines. Indeed, most of the elements have substantial bipartisan support. Nor does this agenda involve freeing corporate managers from accountability to investors for delivering profitable returns. Rather, it makes all those who represent human investors more accountable, but for delivering on what most counts for ordinary investors, which is the creation of durable wealth by socially responsible means.
The fundamental elements of this strategy to promote long-term American competitiveness include: (i) tax policy that discourages counterproductive behavior and encourages investment and work; (ii) investment policies to revitalize our infrastructure, address climate change, create jobs, and close our deficit; (iii) reforming the incentives of and enhancing the fiduciary accountability of institutional investors; (iv) reducing the focus on quarterly earnings estimates and improving the quality of information provided to investors; and (v) an American commitment to an international level playing field to reduce incentives to offshore jobs, erode the social safety net, and pollute the planet.
Putting Benefit Corporation Statutes into Context by Putting Context into the Statutes
Frederick H. Alexander, 76(1): 109-150 (Winter 2020-2021)
Ever since Adam Smith described the efficiency of markets in an age where freedom and property rights were coming to be seen as key elements of the good society, capitalism has honored the concept that capital return at individual enterprises is a good heuristic for their social return. In a complex and interdependent global economy, however, that concept is being challenged, as many question whether the costs of unfettered profit seeking outweigh its benefits. This has led some to challenge the utility of the shareholder primacy doctrine, and others to challenge the utility of capitalism itself.