I am the Distinguished Professor of Corporate and Business Law at Cornell Law School. I believe that business success is not only consistent with ethical behavior, it ultimately depends on it. My home page is here.
My Approach to Ethical Systems:
For the past three decades, many legal, economics and business experts have urged us to assume that human behavior is best understood and channeled by applying the “homo economicus” model of rational, purely selfish action. Unfortunately this approach isn’t supported by the scientific evidence and often doesn’t work out well. My research focuses on the empirical evidence on “prosocial behavior” (a category that includes altruism, ethical action, and even vengeful punishment of antisocial behavior) and explores how the reality of prosociality is both fundamental to, and supported by, a variety of legal and business institutions.
My Major Relevant Publications:
- The Shareholder Value Myth: How putting shareholders first harms investors, corporations and the public (2012) (amazon, B&N, public library). This book makes the case that “maximizing shareholder value” endangers not only investors, but the rest of us as well.
- Cultivating Conscience: How good laws make good people (2012) (amazon, B&N, public library). This book advocates for human conscience as a force that can be used to shape laws and human behavior, and shows how social cues can be used to trigger unselfish behavior.
- ‘Pay Performance’ pitfalls, LA Times (2013)
- How Investing Turns Nice People Into Psychopaths,The Atlantic (2012)
- How Wall Street creates criminals, USA Today (2012)
- How Hedge Funds Create Criminals, Harvard Business Review (2010)
- “Killing Conscience: A Behavioral Analysis of the Unintended Consequences of ‘Pay for Performance,'”(in process).
- “Trust Behavior: The Essential Foundation of Securities Markets,” chapter in Behavioral Finance: investors, corporations, and markets (2010).
- “Taking Conscience Seriously,” chapter in Moral Markets (2008).
- “On the Proper Motives of Corporate Directors (Or, Why You Don’t Want to Invite Homo Economicus to Join Your Board),” in Delaware Journal of Corporate Law (2003).
- “Investor Confidence Game,” in Brooklyn Law Review (2002) and Corporate Practice Commentator (2003).
- “In Praise of Procedure: An Economic and Behavioral Devense of Smith v. Van Gorkom and the Business Judgement Rule,” in Northwestern University Law Review (2002).
- “Judges as Altruistic Hierarchs: 2001 George C. Wythe Lecture,” in Willaim & Mary Law Review (2002).
- “Director Accountability and the Mediating Role of the Corporate Board,” Washington University Law Quarterly (2001).
- “Trust, Trustworthiness and the Behavioral Foundations of Corporate Law,” University of Pennsylvania Law Review (2001).