BOARDS-R-US: RECONCEPTUALIZING CORPORATE BOARDS
Stephen M. Bainbridge* & M. Todd Henderson**
State corporate law requires that “natural persons” provide director services.
This Article puts this obligation to scrutiny, and concludes that there are significant gains that could be realized by permitting firms (be they partnerships, corporations, or other business entities) to provide board services. We call these firms “board service providers” (BSPs). We argue that hiring a BSP to provide board services instead of a loose group of sole proprietorships will increase board accountability, both from markets and from courts. The potential economies
of scale and scope in the board services industry (including vertical integration of consultants and other board member support functions), as well as the benefits of risk pooling and talent allocation, mean that large professional director services firms may arise, and thereby create a market for corporate governance distinct from the market for corporate control. More transparency about board performance, including better pricing of governance by the market, as well as increased reputational assets at stake in board decisions, means improved corporate governance, all else being equal. But our goal in this Article is not necessarily to increase shareholder control over firms; we show how a firm providing board services could be used to increase managerial power as well. This shows the neutrality of our proposed reform, which can therefore be thought
of as a reconceptualization of what a board is rather than a claim about the optimal
locus of corporate power.
* William D. Warren Distinguished Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law.
** Professor of Law and Aaron Director Teaching Scholar, University of Chicago
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