Volume 39 Number 2
Table Of Contents

Table of Contents

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Symposium Article

Berle VII: The Modern Corporation and A Theory of Fields

On May 26-27, 2015, scholars disparately trained in law, anthropology, economics, political science, history and sociology gathered in Seattle for the seventh annual Berle Symposium. As with prior symposia, a principal aim of Berle VII was to shed light on the nature of the modern corporation. As with prior symposia, the voices participating represented numerous […]

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On The Existential Function of the Social and the Limits of Rationalist Accounts of Human Behavior

Rational choice theory has achieved widespread influence in a number of social science disciplines, most notably economics and political science. Given its prominent position within economics, it is not surprising that rational choice theory (and other rationalist perspectives) dominates theory and research on the corporation and decision-making by corporate actors. By contrast, however, the theory […]

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The Theory of Fields and Its Application to Corporate Governance

My goal here is twofold. First, I want to introduce the theory of strategic action fields to the law audience. The main idea in field theory in sociology is that most social action occurs in social arenas where actors know one another and take one another into account in their action. Scholars use the field […]

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Benefit Corporations and Strategic Action Fields or (The Existential Failing of Delaware)

This Article analyzes the creation and growth of benefit corporations from the perspective of strategic action field theory in an attempt to shed some light upon both the subject and the methodology. It considers how the new legal field of benefit corporations responded to weaknesses in the existing fields of business and nonprofit corporations. Where […]

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Agency Theory as Prophecy: How Boards, Analysts, and Fund Managers Perform Their Roles

In 1976, Michael Jensen and William Meckling published a paper reintroducing agency theory that explained how the modern corporation is structured to serve dispersed shareholders. They purported to describe the world as it exists but, in fact, they described a utopia, and their piece was read as a blueprint for that utopia. We take a […]

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Corporations in the Flow of Culture

As an anthropologist, coming out of three decades of research among indigenous Brazilian populations, I naturally saw modern for-profit business corporations as tribes—the collective bearers of adaptive cultural know-how. They appeared to me to be the entities housing the culture needed to produce commodities, to trade commodities on the open market, or both. I was […]

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Culture in Corporate Law or: A Black Corporation, a Christian Corporation, and a Māori Corporation Walk into a Bar . . .

Recent Supreme Court cases have entrenched a new image of corporate civic identity, assigning to the corporate person rights and abilities based upon the cultural characteristics, social ties, civic commitments, and internal lives of the human beings involved in it. This vision of the corporation is exemplified in recent cases implicating a corporate right to […]

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Notes on the Difficulty of Studying the Corporation

In the award-winning documentary The Corporation, public intellectuals and activists characterize corporations as “externalizing machines,” “doom machines,” “persons with no moral conscience,” and “monsters trying to devour as much profit as possible at anyone’s expense.” In other footage, people on the street personify corporations: “General Electric: a kind old man with lots of stories;” “Nike: […]

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The English East India Company and the Modern Corporation: Legacies, Lessons, and Limitations

The English East India Company was first chartered in 1600, endured until the late nineteenth century, and, in a clever act of corporate resurrection, has even recently returned as a global, upmarket retail outlet selling fine foods and commemorative coins. It has also endured in the popular imagination and culture, churning out heroes and villains […]

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