Berle-Dodd Debate

The Berle-Dodd debate of the early 1930s, between specialists in corporation law, was the opening exchange in the still-raging controversy about shareholder versus stakeholder views of the firm. This controversy concerns the primary purpose of the publicly owned corporation. Adolf A. Berle Jr. proposed that public policy should define a strict fiduciary duty for management. E. M. Dodd Jr. replied in favor of public policy safeguarding multiconstituency and community responsibilities. Dodd may be regarded as a forerunner of stakeholder and corporate social responsibility theories. The debate itself had an important impact on the U.S. securities acts of 1933 and 1934.

The Debate

The debate originated in the perceived problem of separation of investor ownership and management control. Adolph Berle and Gardiner C. Means, then an economics doctoral ...

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