Book group: The purpose of the company (Session 1)
February 12, 2024 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
If you live abroad or outside London and cannot attend in person, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, who will provide a Zoom link closer to the time of the event.
Should directors balance the interests of all stakeholders when making decisions, or should they focus on shareholder value maximisation? Visiting Professor in Practice Simon Witney will lead a series of three discussions on two books that deal with this question of corporate purpose in very different ways.
At the first session, on Monday 12 February (Week 5), the group will discuss Prosperity by Oxford academic Colin Mayer, who argues that companies should exist to “profitably solve the problems of people and planet”. Professor Mayer led the British Academy Future of the Corporation project, which reached a similar conclusion.
At the second session on Monday 26th February (Week 7) the group will discuss The Profit Motive: Defending Shareholder Value Maximization by law professor Stephen M. Bainbridge. Professor Bainbridge argues that shareholder value maximization is what the law in the United States currently requires, and that it is what the law ought to require. His view is that the “purpose of the corporation is to sustainably maximize shareholder value over the long term.”
In the third and final discussion on Monday 11 March (Week 9) the group will compare and contrast these differing perspectives and position the debate in the context of UK company law.
The seminars are open to LSE staff, PhD students and LLM students, although numbers will be limited and places allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. The group will meet in-person, although online attendance will be possible for participants who are not in London.
To facilitate discussion, all participants are expected to have read both books before the sessions.