The Cyclical Transformations of the Corporate Form: A Historical Perspective on Corporate Social Responsibility

Citation data:

SSRN Electronic Journal

Usage 4796
Abstract Views 3740
Downloads 1056
Captures 96
Readers 56
Exports-Saves 40
Citations 7
Citation Indexes 7
Ratings
SSRN
SSRN Id:
672601
DOI:
10.2139/ssrn.672601
Author(s):
Reuven S. Avi-Yonah
Publisher(s):
Elsevier BV
Tags:
Delaware; Journal; Corporate; Law; social responsibility; cyclical transformations; theories of corporation
article description
This Article describes the transformations underwent by the corporate form from its Roman origins to the present. It shows that every time there was a shift in the role of the corporation, three theories of the corporation (the aggregate, artificial, and real entity theories) were brought forward in cyclical fashion. However, every time the real entity theory prevailed, and it is the dominant theory during periods of stability in the relationship between the corporation, the shareholders, and the state. The article describes this evolution in detail, and then attempts to derive normative consequences for the legitimacy of corporate social responsibility (CSR). The basic argument is that under the real view, which is historically the dominant view of the corporation, CSR is normatively acceptable even when it does not contribute to the long-run welfare of the shareholders.