Lyman Johnson, ‘Why Corporate Purpose Will Always Matter’

ABSTRACT
Business persons and lawyers (and law professors) perennially struggle over the question whether a business corporation does or should have a purpose other than advancing the interests of shareholders. After briefly setting the stage by describing the dispute over what the positive law of corporate purpose really is and the normative argument over what corporate purpose should be, this short article takes a different turn. It addresses why, in a dynamic, democratic, pluralist society, the foundational issue of corporate purpose remains so important and will not (and should not) go away. However adamantly divergent descriptive and prescriptive positions are held, it is to be expected – and healthy – that, periodically at least, the debate will be revisited and disagreements aired. Neither corporate law nor business practice demands an unequivocal or uniform resolution. Different businesses will continue to answer the corporate purpose question differently.

Johnson, Lyman PQ, Why Corporate Purpose Will Always Matter (2020). University of St Thomas Law Journal, forthcoming 2021, U of St Thomas (Minnesota) Legal Studies Research Paper No 20-18, Washington and Lee Legal Studies Paper forthcoming.

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