Video Friday: Should 'Shareholder Value' Rule Business Thinking?


Eric Orts

KnowledgeAtWharton interview with Eric W. Orts, author of Business Persons: A Legal Theory of the Firm. According to Frank Partnoy, Professor of Law and Finance, University of San Diego,

Orts has rethought and reformulated corporate law theory, echoing the work of Adolf Berle, Gardiner Means, and H.L.A. Hart. While recent scholarship on the nature of the firm have stressed economic and finance theory, Orts frames the analysis around legal theory. Employing an ethics-focused, multi-perspective approach, Orts draws parallels to the history and philosophy of law. It re-elevates the roles of agency, contract, and property law and theory in addressing questions about the firm. The book includes crucial insights into the modern taxonomy of firms and their shifting boundaries, as well as practical contributions to the policy debate about executive compensation challenges and corporate political speech. Orts is a leading voice advocating a more nuanced view of the firm, delivering a thoroughly-researched and foundational book that is a must-read for anyone thinking about the theory of the modern firm.

Eric W. Orts is the Guardsmark Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a secondary appointment in Management. He is the faculty director of the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership and a co-faculty director of the FINRA Institute at Wharton. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Leuven, the University of Michigan Law School, NYU School of Law, Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management, the University of Sydney Law School, and UCLA School of Law. His research focuses on business theory, corporate law, ethics, and sustainability.

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