This article examines how, in the course of the twentieth century, legal scholars and political theorists helped remove the interests of workers (as differentiated from shareholders, officers, and directors) from the core concerns of corporate law and theory. Specifically, the article demonstrates how scholars' conversations about corporate entities and corporate power were influenced by a shared cultural and intellectual objection to Marxist class analysis with its focus on the proletariat. It further explores how the purging of the working class from the scholarly imagination paved a way, first, for the rise of the new classes of managers and owners and the shareholder-centered vision of corporate law and, then, for the emergence of a narrow, shareholder-wealth-maximization norm.
The article uses class as a category of analysis to interpret major events in the history of corporate law: the debate about the personality of associations in the 1910s and 1920s, the publication of The Modern Corporation and Private Property, the debate between Adolf A. Berle, Jr. and E. Merrick Dodd, Jr. about the nature and scope of managerial duties, the rise of managerialism, and the ascent of the economic theory of the firm in the 1980s.
151 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1861 (2003)