Friday, September 4, 2015

Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Reports and Law & Entrepreneurship

Babson College has posted their Global Entrepreneurship Monitor ("GEM") Reports for 2014 (one global, one for the U.S.), available here.

The reports are valuable resources and should be read in full, but below are a few, selected quotes from the executive summary of the US GEM Report.

  • "The United States consistently exhibits among the highest entrepreneurship rates in the developed world. At 14% of the U.S. working age population, entrepreneurship levels edged upward in 2014 to reach the highest level in the 16 years GEM has assessed this activity. This represents approximately 24 million Americans starting or running new businesses. An additional 14 million people were estimated to be running established businesses."
  • "36% of U.S. entrepreneurs operate in the business service sector, which is generally associated with knowledge and service-based businesses."
  • "15% of entrepreneurs state that 25% or more of their customers come from outside the United States. This shows an increase over 11% reported in 2013, but it is still lower than 21% reported, on average, in the other innovation-driven economies."
  • "29% of Americans personally know an entrepreneur; this measure has generally followed a downward path since 2001, when 43% indicated this affiliation."
  • "Women’s entrepreneurship in the United States exhibits among the highest rates (11%) in the developed world."
  • "The United States shows the highest rate of entrepreneurship among 55-64 year olds (11%) across the 29 developed economies surveyed by GEM in 2014."
  • "20% of entrepreneurs aged 18-34 currently employ six or more people. 58% of 18-24 year olds and 46% of 25-34 year olds project six or more employees in five years. Among both younger age groups, 75% use the internet in their businesses."

At Belmont University, we have quite a number of entrepreneurial students, and I think the statistics show that entrepreneurship is a critical piece of our economy.

On the legal scholarship side, Gordon Smith (BYU Law) and others have been building the Law & Entrepreneurship field. The field continues to grow, and I hope to make it to the annual meeting of the Law and Entrepreneurship Association at some point soon.

On the legal education side, there is now a Law & Entrepreneurship LLM at Duke, and the number of related programs is growing. My colleague Mark Phillips is one of the academics advocating for the teaching of entrepreneurial skills to law students, and he shows that those entrepreneurial skills are useful to lawyers at law firms of all sizes.

September 4, 2015 in Business School, Entrepreneurship, Haskell Murray, Research/Scholarhip | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Planet Fitness: Business Plan and IPO

Back in January, I joined Planet Fitness. The $10/month membership seemed too good to be true. Most gyms I had joined in the past had cost 3-5X that amount, and the equipment looked pretty similar. Also, the advertisement of No Commitment* Join Now & Save! (small font – *Commitments may vary per location) gave me pause.

Like a good lawyer, I read all the fine print in the membership contract, looking for a catch. There wasn’t really a catch – except for a small, one-time annual fee (~$30), if I did not cancel before October.

I signed up, enjoyed the gym, and canceled a few months later, as soon as the weather outside improved. (When I exercise, which is not as consistently as some of my co-bloggers, it is mostly just running, and I prefer to run outside if the weather is decent).

So, in total, I paid around $30 for three months of access to a single location of a decent gym.

This deal is still somewhat puzzling to me. If Planet Fitness’ business model makes sense, why aren’t more competitors coming close to the $10/month price point?

Here are some of my guesses (based on my brief experience at one location and pure speculation):

  • Planet Fitness may have a lower cost structure than some gyms. While I thought the equipment was fine, most of the equipment seemed to be of the “no frills variety.” For example, none of the treadmills at my location had color screens and most of the machines appeared to be base models. I did, however, appreciate that Planet Fitness seemed to pay attention to what machines members use regularly – like treadmills, bikes, and ellipticals –  and devoted most of their space to those machines.
  • Planet Fitness may be taking a page from the behavioral economist’s playbook. Planet Fitness made signing up extremely easy and automatically deducted the fee from the member's checking account each month. Canceling was slightly more difficult. You had to physically come into the gym to sign cancellation paperwork, or you could snail mail your cancellation. You also had to give a bit of notice, prior to cancellation, to avoid getting charged for the following month.  The slight difficulty canceling, coupled with the very low monthly fee might result in some folks forgetting about their membership for a while, simply taking a while to cancel, or purposefully avoid canceling, in hopes they would return to working out. I will say that I did not find canceling at Planet Fitness terribly difficult. However, when I was a member of LA Fitness a number of years ago, I remember their cancellation process, through certified “snail-mail” letter, being a pain. 
  • Planet Fitness may have been offering $10/month as a "teaser rate" to attract members, with plans to increase rates once members had developed habits of going to their gyms.  My gym has already increased the “no commitment” membership to $15/month, while the $10/month membership now comes with a 1-year commitment.
  • Judging from these complaints, many members may not understand the annual fee, the commitments (on some plans), and the cancellation requirements. Perhaps these parts of the contracts are helping off-set the low monthly price.
  • Planet Fitness may have been trying to increase their membership numbers in advance of their IPO this summer.

This last bullet-point, regarding increasing membership numbers to help their IPO, is the one I find most interesting. If the valuation of certain tech-companies, like Instagram, can be based on, at least in part, “number of users,” I think it is reasonable to assume that “number of members” is an important metric for the valuation of gyms.

On August 5, The Wall Street Journal reported that Planet Fitness priced its IPO at $16/share and raised $216 million. Planet Fitness disappointed in early trading (See here and here), then rose to just under $20/share, and is now back around its IPO price. Given the prevalence of IPO under-pricing, I imagine early investors hoped for better. That said, I plan to follow Planet Fitness and see if their business model is one that works in the long-term. If they have continued success, I imagine other companies will attempt to imitate. 

Update: Will Foster (Arkansas) passed along this interesting public radio podcast on gym memberships, which discusses Planet Fitness. Basically, it suggests that many gyms seek members who will not show up regularly (or at all). Maybe this is a key to Planet Fitness' business model; Planet Fitness advertises itself as a "no judgment" gym and even has a "lunk alarm" that it rings on weightlifters who grunt or drop weights. Members seeking "no judgment" may come to the gym much less frequently than serious weightlifters. In fact, at the Planet Fitness featured, 50% never even showed up once. That location has ~6000 members, but a capacity of ~300. Also, this podcast makes sense of why Planet Fitness has free candy, bagels, mixers, massage chairs, and pizza parties - again this attracts less serious gym members and it also gives some value to those who come to the gym only to socialize and eat. Listen to the whole thing. 

August 28, 2015 in Business Associations, Corporate Finance, Corporations, Haskell Murray | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law Hiring in Business and Tax Law

As mentioned in my post about law schools hiring in business law areas, we received the following posting from The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law.

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University of Utah Hiring in Business and Tax Law

The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law invites applications for a tenure-track faculty position at the rank of associate professor beginning academic year 2016-2017. Qualifications for the position include a record of excellence in academics, successful teaching experience or potential as a teacher, and strong scholarly distinction or promise. The College is particularly interested in candidates in the areas of business and tax law. Interested persons can submit an application to the University of Utah Human Resources website at https://utah.peopleadmin.com/postings/43173 (please note that the application requires a cover letter, CV, and list of references). Baiba Hicks, Administrative Assistant to the Faculty Appointments Committee (Baiba.hicks@law.utah.edu or 801-581-5464) is available to answer questions.

The University of Utah is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer and educator and its policies prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, religion, age, status as a person with a disability, or veteran’s status. Minorities, women, veterans, and those with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply. Veterans’ preference is extended to qualified veterans. To inquire further about the University’s nondiscrimination and affirmative action policies or to request a reasonable accommodation for a disability in the application process, please contact the following individual who has been designated as the University’s Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator: Director, Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, 201 South Presidents Circle, Rm. 135, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, (801)581-8365, email: oeo@utah.edu.

August 27, 2015 in Business Associations, Haskell Murray, Jobs, Law School | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Belmont University (Massey College of Business) Professor Position - Healthcare Management/Health Law

Belmont University's Massey College of Business (my employer) has an open Assistant Professor of Management position that may interest some of our readers.

As stated below, a PHD in Management and/or a JD is required. Healthcare management expertise is strongly preferred. The recently retired professor whose line we are filling was a JD, MBA, RN with significant healthcare management and health law experience. I am not on the hiring committee, but am happy to discuss Belmont University in general, and I can point interested parties in the right direction.

The online application can be accessed here.

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The College of Business Administration at Belmont University is seeking applications for a tenure-track faculty position at the rank of Assistant Professor beginning August 2015.

The faculty member in this position will teach both graduate and undergraduate management classes. The area of specialization/certification that will be given preference for this position is healthcare management. Ability and willingness to teach healthcare law, patient-centered care, business law, principles of management, and/or strategic management is preferred. Clinical experience or familiarity with the clinical setting will be looked upon quite favorably, as well.  Candidates should be able to demonstrate a well-developed research agenda with promise of publishing in high quality, peer reviewed management or business law journals.

An interest and/or experience in engaging students in undergraduate research will be considered favorably, as will teaching experience at the university level.  Completion of a Ph.D. in management from an AACSB or CAHME accredited/AUPHA member institution by the time of employment is required. A Doctorate of Jurisprudence (JD) is also acceptable.  Belmont University is particularly seeking applicants who can demonstrate the interest and ability to work collaboratively in course design and to teach interdisciplinary and topical courses in this program. 

Belmont University seeks to attract and retain highly qualified faculty and staff that share the University’s values and will contribute to its mission and vision to be a leader among teaching universities bringing together the best of liberal arts and professional education in a Christian community of learning and service. For additional information about the position and to complete the online application, candidates are directed to https://jobs.belmont.edu. During the application process, applicants will be asked to respond to Belmont’s mission, vision, and values statements, articulating how the candidate’s knowledge, experience, and beliefs have prepared him/her to contribute to a Christian community of learning and service and give a brief statement of teaching philosophy. An electronic version of a Cover Letter, Curriculum Vitae, List of References, Teaching Philosophy, and a Response to Belmont’s Mission, Vision, and Values must be attached in order to complete the online application.  Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

A comprehensive, coeducational university located in Nashville, Tennessee, Belmont is among the fastest growing Christian universities in the nation. Ranked No. 5 in the Regional Universities South category and named for the seventh consecutive year as one of the top “Up-and-Comer” universities by U.S. News & World Report, Belmont University consists of approximately 7,300 students who come from every state and 25 countries. The university’s purpose is to help students explore their passions and develop their talents to meet the world’s needs. With more than 75 areas of study, 20 master’s programs and four doctoral degrees, there is no limit to the ways Belmont University can expand an individual's horizon.

Belmont University is an equal opportunity employer committed to fostering a diverse learning community of committed Christians from all racial and ethnic backgrounds. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. The selected candidate for this position will be required to complete a background check satisfactory to the University. 

August 24, 2015 in Business School, Haskell Murray, Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Interview with CJ Leo Strine and the Nabors Case

In this interview, Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Leo Strine singles out C & J Energy Services, Inc. v. City of Miami General Employees’ ("Nabors"), 107 A.3d 1049 (2014) as, perhaps, the most important opinion he has authored as CJ.

Given such an endorsement, I took time to read the case yesterday. The following paragraphs get to the heart of the case, which overturned the Delaware Court of Chancery's mandate to shop the company at issue.

Revlon does not require a board to set aside its own view of what is best for the corporation’s stockholders and run an auction whenever the board approves a change of control transaction. As this Court has made clear, “there is no single blueprint that a board must follow to fulfill its duties,” and a court applying Revlon ‘s enhanced scrutiny must decide “whether the directors made a reasonable decision, not a perfect decision.”

 

In a series of decisions in the wake of Revlon, Chancellor Allen correctly read its holding as permitting a board to pursue the transaction it reasonably views as most valuable to stockholders, so long as the transaction is subject to an effective market check under circumstances in which any bidder interested in paying more has a reasonable opportunity to do so. Such a market check does not have to involve an active solicitation, so long as interested bidders have a fair opportunity to present a higher-value alternative, and the board has the flexibility to eschew the original transaction and accept the higher-value deal. The ability of the stockholders themselves to freely accept or reject the board’s preferred course of action is also of great importance in this context.

 

pgs. 1067-68.

August 21, 2015 in Delaware, Haskell Murray, M&A | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 14, 2015

ALSB Promotion and Tenure News

An Academy of Legal Studies in Business (“ALSB”) colleague suggested I do a post listing recent promotion and tenure news for fellow legal studies professors. I think that this is a worthy thing to celebrate on the blog.

Below I have listed the recent P&T news sent to me by ALSB listserv members. I may update this list as I receive more news. Congrats all! 

Brian Halsey (West Chester) – promoted to Professor and appointed as Director of the MBA Program

Henry Lowenstein (Coastal Carolina) – awarded the William J. Baxley, Jr. Applied Business Endowed Professorship for 2015-16

Joshua Perry (Indiana) – promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure and awarded the endowed W. Michael & William D. Wells Life Sciences Faculty Fellowship

Denise Smith (Eastern Illinois) – promoted to Professor

Nancy White (Central Michigan) – named Chair of the Finance and Law Department

Eric Yordy (Northern Arizona) – promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure

August 14, 2015 in Business School, Haskell Murray | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Maternity and Paternity Leave at Netflix

The internet has been abuzz this week with news that Netflix will now offer of "unlimited" maternity and paternity leave to its employees.

I place "unlimited" in scare quotes because, while Netflix uses that word, the announcement makes clear that the leave is unlimited....during the first year after a child's birth or adoption.

Nonetheless, one year of paid maternity/paternity leave is extremely generous by U.S. company standards. 

Amid the praise, there has been a fair bit of skepticism. 

No good deed goes unpunished? As far as I could tell, the criticism boils down to the following:

  • Netflix (and other companies) may not be able to afford this massive benefit
  • The policy does not cover all Netflix employees
  • The policy may lead to jealousy and strained working relationships
  • Parents will have a hard time separating from their children after one year
  • Employees might actually take less time off, as seen with some of the unlimited vacation policies

The skepticism following Netflix's announcement reminds me of the somewhat surprising blowback from Gravity Payment's decision to raise its minimum salary to $70,000. More details on the Gravity Payment's situation are nicely detailed by our friend Christine Hurt (BYU Law) at The Conglomerate. Decisions by both companies appear to warrant business judgment rule protection, even if they turn out badly. 

While the reactions have been mixed, Netflix has definitely been getting a lot of publicity. Perhaps the publicity will breathe new life into efforts to have the U.S. join the rest of the industrialize world in requiring paid maternity/paternity leave.

In any event, it will be interesting to see how Netflix's policy plays out. To date, the stock market seems to be supporting the announcement (or at least fairly neutral on the announcement). If support continues, perhaps we will see this type of policy spread organically.

August 7, 2015 in CSR, Current Affairs, Employment Law, Haskell Murray | Permalink | Comments (0)

The University of South Carolina School of Law - Professor Positions

From an e-mail I received earlier today:

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University of South Carolina School of Law

Hiring Advertisement

The University of South Carolina School of Law invites applications for tenured, tenure-track, or visiting faculty positions to begin fall semester 2016. Candidates should have a juris doctorate or equivalent degree. Additionally, a successful applicant should have a record of excellence in academia or in practice, the potential to be an outstanding teacher, and demonstrable scholarly promise.  Although the School of Law is especially interested in candidates who are qualified to teach in the areas of taxation, clinical legal education, environmental law and small business, we are equally interested in candidates who can contribute to the diversity of our law school community whose teaching interests may fall outside of these areas. 

Interested persons should send a resume, references, and subject area preferences to Prof. Eboni Nelson, Chair, Faculty Selection Committee, c/o Kim Fanning, University of South Carolina School of Law, 701 S. Main St., Columbia, SC 29208 or, by email, to HIRE2016@LAW.SC.EDU (electronic The University of South Carolina is committed to a diverse faculty, staff, and student body.  We encourage applications from women, minorities, persons with disabilities, and others whose background, experience, and viewpoints contribute to the diversity of our institution. The University of South Carolina is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the base of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetics, sexual orientation, gender, or veteran status.

August 7, 2015 in Haskell Murray, Jobs, Law School | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Schools Hiring in Business Areas 2015-16

Earlier I posted a list of business schools hiring in legal studies.

This post includes a list of law schools that have listed business law as an area of interest.* I will use the PrawfsBlawg spreadsheet and other sources to update this list from time to time.

Feel free to send me any additions or leave additions in the comments.   

Updated Sept. 3, 2015

*Schools that have not listed any preferences, or that have provided open-ended language after preferences that do not include business law, are not included in this list. Also, given that I do not have access to the AALS ads, this list is likely incomplete and only includes schools that have posted their open positions online.  

For the purposes of this post, I include the following subject areas in the definition of "business law": banking; business associations; corporate finance; corporate governance; financial institutions; international business transactions; law & economics; law & entrepreneurship; M&A; securities regulation; unincorporated entities .

August 7, 2015 in Business Associations, Haskell Murray, Jobs, Law School | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

In Memoriam: Judge A. Harris Adams

Harris Adams

Judge A. Harris Adams (Georgia Court of Appeals 2002-2012) died on Monday night at age 67. According to the Daily Report: "Visitation is planned for 5-7 p.m. Thursday at Mayes Ward-Dobbins Funeral Home, 180 Church St., Marietta. Funeral services are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Friday at the Church of the Apostles in Atlanta."

Until my family moved after my eighth grade year, I lived just a few blocks from Judge Adams, his wife (who was one of my mother's dearest friends), and his three children in Marietta, GA. His oldest child, Lanier, attempted to teach me piano, and his youngest, Zach, was a childhood friend of mine.

Judge Adams had an infectious laugh. He was a talented storyteller. He was bright and well-respected, but stayed humble and never seemed to take himself too seriously. I have some vivid memories of him shooting baskets with Zach and me, in his dress clothes. He will be missed by many. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.   

August 5, 2015 in Haskell Murray | Permalink | Comments (1)

The University of Maryland School of Law - Professor Opening

I received this position posting today via e-mail (emphasis added):

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The University of Maryland School of Law invites applications for a tenure-track faculty position to teach in the area of business law, potentially including an appropriate combination of the following courses: Business Associations, Corporate Finance, Secured Transactions, along with other core classes in the business curriculum.  We will consider both entry level and lateral candidates.  The University of Maryland has a strong commitment to diversity.  We welcome applications from persons of color, women, and other members of historically disadvantaged groups.  Contact: Professor Leigh Goodmark, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, 500 W. Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201.  Email: lgoodmark@law.umaryland.edu.  Phone: (410) 706-3549.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

Minorities, women, veterans and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

August 5, 2015 in Business Associations, Haskell Murray, Jobs, Law School | Permalink | Comments (0)

Eastern Illinois University - Professor Opening

I am not sure if we have any readers with doctorates in accounting, but, if so, see the hiring announcement from Eastern Illinois University below. I have included this announcement because they are also considering applicants with a J.D. and a CPA or LLM (or other masters) in tax.

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Eastern Illinois University invites applicants for two 9-month tenure track positions at the Assistant level in Accountancy. The positions begin in Fall 2016 and hiring will ultimately depend on the availability of funding. Evidence of strong instructional effectiveness is essential as are strong communication and interpersonal skills.  Demonstrated commitment to diversity and experience with promoting inclusive excellence is required.  The successful candidate will also be expected to provide evidence (or potential) to engage in related research and service activities.  Professional certification, business experience, and experience or willingness to teach in an online format are desirable.

For one position, a PhD or DBA in Accountancy, or a JD with CPA or specialized masters’ in tax, is preferred, although ABDs close to completion will be considered. Candidate should possess expertise and teaching experience in Tax and a secondary area such as managerial, governmental & not-for-profit, accounting information systems, or audit.

For the second position, a PhD or DBA in Accountancy is preferred, although ABDs close to completion will be considered. Candidates should possess expertise and teaching experience in Managerial Accounting. An interest in teaching in a secondary area such as governmental & not-for-profit, or accounting information systems is desirable.

Dr. Denise Smith, Chair of the Search Committee, will be interviewing during the American Accounting Association Annual Meeting in August 2015. All applicants must submit a letter of interest, a current curriculum vita, evidence of teaching effectiveness, and names and contact information (including phone numbers and email addresses) for three references.  Applications for the tax accounting position must be submitted electronically to Interfolio at apply.interfolio.com/30692 while application for the managerial accounting position must be submitted electronically to Interfolio at apply.interfolio.com/30734.

Finalists will be asked to provide transcripts. Review of all applications will begin on September 2, 2015, and will continue until all campus interviews are scheduled.

Eastern Illinois University is a public university that places priority on teaching excellence for a student body in a rural setting. Eastern is consistently named one of the top Midwestern public universities in our class by U.S. News & World Report. Approximately 9,000 students are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs. Charleston is located in east central Illinois and combines the benefits of a community of 20,000 with access to several large cities, including Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis. The University is accredited by North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The School of Business and the Accountancy Program are fully accredited by AACSB International.  The School of Business offers six undergraduate majors, eight minors, and an MBA. There are approximately 1,100 declared undergraduate business majors and 100 MBA degree candidates. For more information about the School of Business and the university, visit this web site: http://www.eiu.edu/business/.

Eastern Illinois University is an Affirmative Action/ Equal Opportunity Employer – minority/female/disability/veteran – committed to achieving a diverse community.

August 5, 2015 in Business School, Haskell Murray, Jobs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Rutgers University School of Law (Camden) - Job Posting

The following position posting was provided to us via e-mail:

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RUTGERS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW (CAMDEN CAMPUS) invites applications from entry-level and lateral candidates for one or more tenure-track or tenured faculty positions. Possible areas of particular interest include, but are not limited to, corporate law, corporate governance, commercial law, securities regulation, and other areas of business law. We will consider candidates with an interest in building upon our newly devised Certificate Program in Corporate/Business Law. All applicants should have a distinguished academic background and either great promise or a record of excellence in both scholarship and teaching. We encourage applications from women, people of color, persons with disabilities, and others whose background, experience, and viewpoints would contribute to the diversity of our faculty. Contact: Professor Arthur Laby, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee; Rutgers University School of Law; 217 North Fifth Street; Camden, NJ; 08102; alaby@rutgers.edu. Rutgers University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all in every aspect of its operations.

August 4, 2015 in Business Associations, Corporate Governance, Haskell Murray, Jobs, Law School, Securities Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 31, 2015

Khan, Serafeim, & Yoon on Corporate Sustainability and Materiality

Mozaffar Khan, George Serafeim, and Aaron Yoon of Harvard Business School have posted an interesting working paper entitled Corporate Sustainability: First Evidence on Materiality. The abstract follows:

An increasing number of companies make sustainability investments, and an increasing number of investors integrate sustainability performance data in their capital allocation decisions. To date however, the prior academic literature has not distinguished between investments in material versus immaterial sustainability issues. We develop a novel dataset by hand-mapping data on sustainability investments classified as material for each industry into firm-specific performance data on a variety of sustainability investments. This allows us to present new evidence on the value implications of sustainability investments. Using calendar-time portfolio stock return regressions we find that firms with good performance on material sustainability issues significantly outperform firms with poor performance on these issues, suggesting that investments in sustainability issues are shareholder-value enhancing. Further, firms with good performance on sustainability issues not classified as material do not underperform firms with poor performance on these same issues, suggesting investments in sustainability issues are at a minimum not value-destroying. Finally, firms with good performance on material issues and concurrently poor performance on immaterial issues perform the best. These results speak to the efficiency of firms’ sustainability investments, and also have implications for asset managers who have committed to the integration of sustainability factors in their capital allocation decisions.

The authors' materiality determination is based on industry-specific guidance from the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). I have been following SASB’s work for some time now, but would still like to learn more about the organization if any of our readers have more detail than is available online. 

July 31, 2015 in Corporate Governance, Corporations, CSR, Haskell Murray | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Summer Reading: Excellent Sheep

For a university discussion group this summer, I read William Deresiewicz's book Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life (2014).

Deresiewicz, a former Yale English professor, caused quite a stir in higher education circles with his Don't Send Your Kid to the Ivy League article in the New Republic (and other articles in various outlets), which promoted Excellent Sheep pre-publication.

Deresiewicz's attack on the ivy league can be summarized as follows:

  • Encourages a system that leads to resume-padding instead of authentic learning and service
  • Too much focus on future financial success and not enough focus on life's big questions
  • Not enough socioeconomic diversity
  • Faculty preoccupied with research and do not spend enough time on teaching/service
  • Risk-taking is not encouraged; error for margin for students is too small
  • Coursework not rigorous enough
  • Students are kept doing busy-work rather than allowed to explore
  • Encourages a system that can lead to depression, isolation, etc. 

Deresiewicz taught at Yale for 10 years and was supposedly denied tenure in 2008. When I found out that Deresiewicz's was denied tenure, I was tempted to write off his book as sour grapes, but I think it best to evaluate his claims on their own merit.

In my view, Deresiewicz doesn't bring much new to the conversation, and a number of his challenges to the ivy league could be brought against many colleges and universities. His proposed solution is for students to consider attending a small liberal arts college (where teaching is still a priority) or a state school (where there is much more true diversity). Deresiewicz, however, seems to underestimate the value of connections, brand, resources, and opportunities at ivy league schools. 

Deresiewicz also laments the dwindling interest in the liberal arts and the increasing focus on majors that are more directly profession-focused (like economics and finance). While Deresiewicz seems to realize the risk in turning down an ivy league education and also choosing a major like History or English, he does not seem to fully realize how some students simply cannot afford those risks. While return on investment should certainly not be the only focus in choosing a school and a major, it is rightfully important to many.

Personally, I don't think the entire 242-page book was worth the read. There simply was not much new, aside from a few glimpses behind the curtain at Yale. If I had it to do over again, I probably would have just stuck with Deresiewicz's article and the responses (e.g., here and here).

July 24, 2015 in Books, Business School, Haskell Murray, Law School, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, July 20, 2015

University of Georgia, Terry College of Business - Legal Studies Lecturer Position

UGA

The University of Georgia's Terry College of Business has posted information about a legal studies lecturer position they are seeking to fill this fall.

I know UGA's legal studies faculty, and they have a bright, collegial group. Also, UGA's current president, Jere Morehead, previously taught legal studies courses in UGA's Terry College of Business.

More information about the position, provided by UGA, is available after the break.

Continue reading

July 20, 2015 in Business School, Haskell Murray, Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 17, 2015

Social Responsibility: Metrics or Narrative?

Aspen

Earlier this week, I listened to The Aspen Institute's Does Maximizing Shareholder Value Endanger America’s Great Companies, featuring Lynn Stout (Cornell Law), Tom Donaldson (Penn-Wharton), Howard Schultz (Starbucks), and Shelly Lazarus (director of Merck & GE).

The panel discussion is over a year old, but still relevant. Among other things, I found the exchange between a Georgetown professor in the audience and Howard Schultz of Starbucks to be interesting (starting at 46 minutes).

Georgetown Professor: [Asks a roughly 2-minute long question about creating and choosing appropriate metrics for measuring social responsibility.]

Howard Schultz: "I certainly understand that you are a professor and you want a metric, but this is not the real world. We don't sit in a room and measure metrics. Let me tell you a very brief story...[tells a story about Starbucks' company meeting of parents of employees in China]...you can't put a metric on that; there is no metric....it is a narrative..." 

Personally, I think Schultz was a bit too quick to dismiss the need for social metrics, and, in practice, I am sure Starbucks has some social metrics that it uses. Without any social metrics, however, even the best intentioned management can deceive itself and the stakeholders. That said, Schultz's basic point is a fair one. Social responsibility is notoriously difficult to measure, and stories are likely needed to give a full sense of the impact. Also, carefully measuring and disclosing social impact can be costly. Using social metrics may even be counter-productive, if the measuring takes focus off of high-impact practices that are more difficult to measure, and moves the focus to other, lower-impact (but easily quantifiable) practices. 

One of my summer projects centers around benefit corporation reporting, so I am thinking about social reporting a good bit and welcome any thoughts. Currently, while I fully recognize the limitations and dangers of social metrics, I don't think abandoning metrics altogether is wise due to the possibility of self-deceit and stakeholder-deceit.

In short, with social responsibility, I don't think it is metrics or narrative; I think it is metrics and narrative. Deciding the balance, and the appropriate metrics, however, is quite difficult.  

July 17, 2015 in Corporations, CSR, Haskell Murray | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Legal Studies Professor Positions in Business Schools (2016)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Amendments to Delaware PBC Law (“The Etsy Amendments”)

Among the DGCL amendments this year were a number of amendments to the Delaware Public Benefit Corporation (“PBC”) Law. 

I refer to the Delaware PBC amendments as “The Etsy Amendments” because I believe (without being sure) that a main motivation in passing these amendments was to make it easier for Etsy (among other companies) to become a Delaware PBC. These amendments are effective as of August 1, 2015.

As mentioned in a previous post, Etsy is a certified B corporation and a Delaware C-corporation. According to B Lab’s terms for certified B corporations, Etsy will have to convert to a Delaware PBC by August 1, 2017 or forfeit its certification. This assumes that B Lab will not change its requirements or make an exception for publicly-traded companies.

The amendments to the PBC law are summarized below:

  • Eliminates requirement of "PBC" or "Public Benefit Corporation" in the entity’s formal name. This amendment makes it easier and less costly for existing entities to convert, but the amendment also makes it more difficult for researchers (and the rest of the public) to track the PBCs. In addition to the cost of changing names, Rick Alexander notes in his article below that the previous naming requirement was causing issues when PBCs registered in other states because “[s]ome jurisdictions view the term as referring to nonprofit corporations. Other jurisdictions view the phrase ‘'PBC'’ as insufficient to signal corporate identity.”
  • Reduces amount of shareholders that must approve a conversion from a traditional corporation to a PBC from 90% to 2/3rds of shareholders. This amendment brings Delaware PBC law in line with most of the benefit corporation statutes and gives Etsy a more realistic shot at converting. The requirement in Delaware to convert from a PBC to a traditional corporation was already approval by 2/3rds of shareholders.
  • Provides a “market out” exception to appraisal rights when a corporation becomes a PBC. This amendment brings the Delaware PBC law in line with their general appraisal provision in DGCL 262. This amendment also means that Etsy shareholders would not receive appraisal rights if Etsy converts to a PBC.

Additional posts about the amendments are available below:

July 3, 2015 in Business Associations, Corporate Governance, Corporations, Delaware, Haskell Murray, Legislation, Social Enterprise | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Business School Legal Studies Professors on Twitter

Bridget Crawford (Pace Law) has posted an extensive list of law school professors on Twitter that is available here.

Previously, I compiled a list of business law professors, in both business schools and law schools, but to avoid overlapping with Bridget's list, I am only including business school legal studies professors in this updated list.

I will update the list from time to time. [Last updated - 8/11/15]

Perry Binder (Georgia State) – @Perry_Binder

Seletha Butler (Georgia Tech) – @ProfSButler

Kabrina Chang (Boston University) – @ProfessorChang

Peter Conti-Brown (Penn-Wharton) – @PeterContiBrown

Greg Day (Oklahoma State) – @gregrrday

Laura Dove (Troy) – @LauraRDove

Marc Edelman (CUNY-Baruch College) – @MarcEdelman

Jason Gordon (Georgia Gwinnett) – @JMGordonLaw

Nathaniel Grow (Georgia) – @NathanielGrow

Enrique Guerra-Pujol (Central Florida) – @lawscholar

Lori Harris-Ransom (Caldwell) – @HarrisRansom

Laura Pincus Hartman (DePaul) – @LauraHartman

Lydie Louis (Miami) – @LydieLouis

Haskell Murray (Belmont) – @HaskellMurray

David Orozco (Florida State) – @ProfessorOrozco

Eric Orts (Penn-Wharton)– @EricOrts

Marisa Pagnattaro (Georgia) – @pagnattaro

Joshua Perry (Indiana) – @ProfJoshPerry

Angie Raymond (Indiana) – @AngRaymond

Susan Samuelson (Boston University) – @bizlawupdate

Tim Samples (Georgia) – @TimRSamples

Inara Scott (Oregon State) – @NewEnergyProf

Mike Schuster (Oklahoma State) – @Patent_Nerd

Adam Sulkowski (UMass-Dartmouth) – @adam_sulkowski

Peter Swire (Georgia Tech) – @peterswire

July 2, 2015 in Business School, Haskell Murray, Service, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)