Monday, August 22, 2011

What is Law and Development?

Mariana Prado (Toronto Law) asks What is Law and Development?

ABSTRACT: Law & Development studies have been growing in the past few years, after having its death declared in the 1070s. There is, however, very little clarity as to what this field of study encompasses or whether it is a field at all. Under the label of Law & Development one can find a wide variety of studies, approaches, analyses and topics. Some studies focus on formal institutions, discussing how enforcement of contracts, protection of property rights, and an independent judiciary protect investors and improve economic growth in developing countries. Others have not focused on economic development, but instead on how laws to protect women from abuses in the family and to create quotas to guarantee their participation in the public sphere have been largely ineffective due to deeply embedded social norms and value that cannot be changed by legislation (at least not from one day to the next). Still others have criticized the Law & Development discourse as another source of imperialism and dominance that justify senseless legal transplants from the North to the South.

What brings all these studies together under one label? What is it that one should know, if one is looking for a concise summary of what this field of study encompasses? These are the questions that I will try to answer in this essay. The read should be forewarned that the title may be slightly misleading, as the paper will not provide comprehensive and conclusive answers to the question “What is Law & Development?” but hopefully it will offer a starting point for a deeper inquiry. Most importantly, I hope readers will take this as an invitation to explore this field in greater depth.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Interesting new article by Don Clarke

Donald C. Clarke, George Washington University Law School has posted ‘Nothing But Wind’? The Past and Future of Comparative Corporate Governance.

ABSTRACT: Corporate law scholarship has come a long way since Bayless Manning some four decades ago famously pronounced it dead. Not only has doctrinal scholarship continued its project of critique and rationalization, but empirical and economic approaches have injected new life into the field.

Recent years have seen the rise of comparative corporate governance (CCG) as an increasingly mainstream approach within the world of corporate governance studies. This is a function partly of an increasing international orientation on the part of legal scholars and partly of an increasingly empirical turn in corporate law scholarship generally. Different practices in other jurisdictions present at least the possibility of natural experiments that attempt to find causal relationships between particular features of a corporate governance regime and real-world outcomes. This body of research has become particular relevant as we enter the second decade of the twenty-first century. The financial crisis has called into question many of our traditional ways of thinking about corporate governance and the relationship between business enterprises and the state. Are there other countries that do it better?

This article discusses what is unique about CCG as an approach to corporate governance studies. It begins by examining the concepts of corporate governance and comparative corporate governance, making the point that comparative corporate governance has in general been focused on agency problems between shareholders and managers but need not be so. It then looks at methodological issues in comparative corporate governance, critiquing in particular economic Darwinist theories and the failure of theories of international competition in corporate governance to incorporate the notion of comparative advantage. Finally, it reviews major lessons learned from this body of work and suggests direction for future research. Among other things, it calls for more comparative research into alternative business entities dubbed “uncorporations” by Larry Ribstein and into corporate governance in increasingly important economies such as China and India.