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Governance Inc.

Authors

  • Jeroen Veldman

    1. School of Management, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK and School of Governance, University of Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands
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Abstract

The use of the nomer ‘corporate’ is hardly an issue in contemporary scholarship on corporate governance. I will argue that this nomer is important for two main reasons. First, the corporate form distinguishes itself from any other form of business representation. In this sense, it is important to know exactly how this form is different to understand how conceptions of ‘corporate governance’ relate to different forms of representation. Second, it is my contention that the use of a particular understanding of incorporation directly informs the concept of internal governance in terms of constituency, structure, ownership and the locus of corporate agency. It is in this sense that I argue that the identification of corporate constituencies and the allocation of agency and ownership is a precondition of business ethics. With this aim in mind, I explore the governance in corporations as the result of the legal understanding of incorporation and the separate legal entity. I explore two historical positions from which five legal positions on the separate legal entity can be derived. These five positions provide reference points for the attribution of ownership and agency between the separate legal entity and the aggregation of individuals that together make up the corporation. Incorporation, as the legal act that constitutes the corporation, can then be shown to adopt multiple and mutually exclusive positions. These positions are central to the debate on the respective claims to agency and ownership between the separate legal entity and the aggregation of individuals. I then end the article by arguing that all concepts of incorporation create legal and economic issues regarding the allocation of ownership and agency, which makes their understanding and the choice behind them important for theories of governance.

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