The traditional law and economics view of corporate governance emphasizes the profit-maximizing, shareholder-oriented nature of corporations. This view was famously illustrated by Milton Friedman’s statement that the only social responsibility of a business is to maximize profits “so long as it stays within the rules of the game.” Mainstream corporate governance scholarship has therefore focused on the ways in which business organizations are legally structured and regulated to achieve efficient operation and minimize agency costs that result from diverging interests and asymmetric information among managers, shareholders, and creditors. Over the last few decades, however, scholarship and public discourse alike began devoting increased attention to the role and interests of other corporate stakeholders, such as employees, consumers, or the communities within which businesses operate. Some of this research advances arguments about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), a multi-faceted concept that covers a wide array of issues considered by private businesses looking to advance ethics-based interests, including working conditions, human rights, fair competition, the environment, and more. While CSR largely has been considered a form of corporate self-regulation, national and international laws have promulgated regulatory schemes to support and incentivize this growing phenomenon. CSR advances “stakeholderism” – the idea of promoting the interests of the stakeholders of a firm to enhance a company’s reputation and profitability on the one hand while, on the other, offering an ethical model to assist corporations in becoming socially accountable to themselves, their stakeholders, and the public.

15 March 2024 — 16 March 2024
2:40 pm

University of Lucerne

Link to the conference