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date: 25 July 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the contemporary relevance of Berle and Means’ fundamental questioning of the purposes of the corporation. The issues considered concern the contemporary nature of the modern corporation as a new institutional form, and the determination of its purposes. The chapter draws on legal and empirical sources to examine the purposes of the corporation: the interpretation by courts of the duty imposed on directors to act in the interests of the corporation; a survey of company directors to assess what influence directors’ duties have on the extent to which directors are adopting stakeholders’ approaches; and research on how corporations define their business objectives as this provides insight into how corporations define their purposes.

Keywords: business objective, corporate social responsibility, directors’ duties, corporate purpose, accountability, shareholder primacy, stakeholder theory

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