Monday, July 18, 2022
Stakeholder Thread at the Global Meeting on Law and Society
Greetings from Cervera, Spain. As you know from my post last week, I am traveling in the Catalonia region of Spain for a few days this week after the 2022 Law and Society Association Global Meeting on Law and Society, which was held in Lisbon, Portugal this year. I have the blessing of staying with a friend (whom I met through Zoom mindful yoga practices during the pandemic) in her private home.
I want to offer a quick post this week to reflect on what turned out to be a mini-theme in the presentations I attended at the Global Meeting on Law and Society. That mini-theme was, perhaps unsurprisingly, corporate stakeholderism. (And I note with some interest that Stefan has recently written and blogged on an aspect of corporate stakeholderism as well.) The following programs from the collaborative research network (CRN) to which I belong picked up on this theme, in one way or another:
- an entire paper panel entitled: "Corporations, Shareholders, and Other Stakeholders," which featured academic work focusing on corporate governance and finance from a number of different stakeholder perspectives;
- a roundtable discussion entitled "Corporations & Engendering Public Trust," billed as a session that "brings together corporate law experts to investigate how information and communications with stakeholders, investors, and the market can enhance trust in corporations and the corporate sector as a whole";
- an Author Meets Reader session celebrating Reconstructing the Corporation: From Shareholder Primacy to Shared Governance (2021), co-authored by Grant Hayden and Matt Bodie (which, as many of you likely know, takes a hard look at the current state of corporate governance and offers a new model in which shareholders and employees play a stronger role);
- a paper panel entitled, "Corporations and Society," which featured Grant and Matt's new paper, Democratic Participation as Corporate Purpose;
- a roundtable session entitled "Present and Future of Corporations in Society," which addressed ways in which corporate law and securities regulation impact the relationship of corporations to environmental and social concerns; and
- a roundtable entitled "Awakening Capitalism," catalyzed by Alan Palmiter's Capitalism, heal thyself essay (which I wrote about in an earlier post).
Of course, papers and commentary in other programs and papers also raised the stakeholderism theme and related issues. And, of course, the prominence of this theme may not be news to any of you, given the central role that ESG has been playing in recent corporate finance and corporate governance discussions. Finally, of course, I may be suffering from anchoring, an immediacy effect, or other cognitive biases in identifying this substantive thread that tied together so many programs and presentations. Yet, I do not remember a dominant theme like this emerging from our CRN's programming in the past. In any event, it seems we should be looking out for a bunch of business law research publications in the coming months that offer insights on stakeholder rights, opportunities, and concerns . . . .
Tom N., the stakeholders have always been/ always are there, at some level of consideration. My view is that the directors' fiduciary duties to the corporation commit them to take everything significant that is available to them into account in their decision making. That may be classified as stakeholderism. But it is just good, solid, board decision making, based on law and norms.
And if I were a TV person, I might watch those same series!
Posted by: joanheminway | Jul 18, 2022 3:12:58 PM
It continues to be intriguing to me what seems to be the increasing influence and discussion of the "stakeholder" as contrasted with the "shareholder." That and the CSR movement. Considering this, I watch A & E and the History Channel regarding "How (fill industry leader) Changed America."
Posted by: Tom N. | Jul 18, 2022 2:47:15 PM