Should corporate culture and mainstream corporate law be rebuilt from the ground up?

A few days ago, the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) published its Executive Excess 2013 report. The document offers a 20-year review of “achievements” of top-paid CEOs of U.S. companies. The “achievements” range from (1) being bailed out by taxpayers, to (2) being booted for poor performance or other reasons, and (3) being busted for fraud. A two-minute video (see below) provides a summary of the information shown in the report.

The CEO misdeeds reported by IPS raise the question of whether the “corporation” and its laws, as they currently exist, are the best way to go about setting up economic organizations as entities that are equipped to generate results truly cherished by society as a whole.

Alternatives to the prevailing kind of corporation do of course exist. Examples can be found in the so-called “Benefit Corporations” (U.S.) and in the “Community Interest Companies” (UK). Throw in other alternative ideas that have sprung up among governments, entrepreneurs and common folks — such as ethical investment (see example here), UN’s responsible investment, green finance, transition towns etc. — and certainly talk about the “end of history for corporate law” becomes less credible.  Moreover, in light of new ideas and practices, perhaps new ways to organize production, exchange and consumption can start to look less as a far-away dream, and more as a reality at the grasp of social movements eager to change the world.

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