The Basic Governance Structure: The Interests of Shareholders as a Class

The Basic Governance Structure: The Interests of Shareholders as a Class

John Armour, Luca Enriques, Henry Hansmann, Reinier Kraakman

Series number :

Serial Number: 

Date posted :

January 01 2017

Last revised :

January 27 2017
SSRN Share


  • Shareholder-management conflict • 
  • one-tier and two-tier boards • 
  • director appointment • 
  • directors removal • 
  • decision rights • 
  • shareholder coordination • 
  • Independent Directors • 
  • executive compensation

This paper is the third chapter of the third edition of The Anatomy of Corporate Law: A Comparative and Functional Approach, by Reinier Kraakman, John Armour, Paul Davies, Luca Enriques, Henry Hansmann, Gerard Hertig, Klaus Hopt, Hideki Kanda Mariana Pargendler, Georg Ringe, and Edward Rock (Oxford University Press, 2017).

The book as a whole provides a functional analysis of corporate (or company) law in Europe, the U.S., and Japan. Its organization reflects the structure of corporate law across all jurisdictions, while individual chapters explore the diversity of jurisdictional approaches to the common problems of corporate law. In its third edition, the book has been significantly revised and expanded. Chapter 3 examines legal strategies employed in representative “core jurisdictions” to mitigate manager-shareholder conflicts. Agency problems arise from two of the core features of the corporate form: investor ownership, which often results in ultimate control being held by shareholders far removed from the firm’s day-to-day operations, and delegated management, which opens up the possibility for opportunistic behavior. This chapter describes how legal strategies outlined in Chapter 2 of the book are utilized to solve the trade-offs resulting from the interaction of investor ownership with delegated management. It describes the use of appointment rights, by which shareholders retain the right to appoint and remove directors. Next, it focuses on core decision rights and how their effectiveness is related to the problem of shareholder coordination costs. It then considers reward strategies and independent directors as a popular trusteeship strategy, while also highlighting differences in and commonalities in the regulation of executive compensation. The chapter briefly reviews legal rules and standards and disclosure as additional tools, before reflecting upon why some divergence in the basic corporate governance structure persists across our sample jurisdictions.