Corporate purpose and sustainable corporate governance

Ever since company law scholarship was eclipsed by economics there have been few serious challenges to the idea that the principal job of company directors – indeed their legal duty – is to maximize shareholder value. The majority opinion in most jurisdictions has been that this is the essence of company law as it stands and that is how the law should be also in the future. This status quo has been shaken in recent years by pressing calls for a new paradigm that would take better into account interests of all company stakeholders and the society at large. The revitalized debate about corporate purpose is part of a larger dialogue about responsive capitalism and the role of businesses in addressing climate change, inequality and other wicked problems of the twenty-first century. Most agree that more than little tweaks in company laws and governance codes will be needed if the incentives of companies’ boards and management are to be totally and effectively re-aligned towards societal objectives. While such a reform programme is yet to emerge, it is clear that shareholder primacy is facing its most serious challenge so far. The agenda of “stakeholder capitalism” has spurred high-level policy manifestos, private-sector initiatives and even legislative reforms.

This conference brings together distinguished international academics to take stock of the ongoing corporate purpose debate and to assess the agenda’s fate in the new political and economic climate.

The conference has been made possible by Lauri Cederberg Fund.

The conference will take place in Porthania (PII) and streamed via Unitube here.