Beyond "Unprecedented" S1 Ep5: A Shareholder-Stakeholder Smackdown


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The belief that a corporation’s highest purpose is to maximize profits for its shareholders, first articulated by economist Milton Friedman, has guided corporate behavior for half a century. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic, the racial equity movement, and the climate crisis are amplifying calls for corporations to focus on employee welfare, social responsibility, and environmental sustainability. Can corporations please both shareholders and stakeholders?

In the fifth episode of Beyond Unprecedented”: The Post-Pandemic Economy, Eric Talley hosts a conversation with corporate governance experts Ira M. Millstein and Leo E. Strine Jr. to discuss the history of “shareholder primacy,” the source of the pressure on public companies to boost stock prices, and the role government should play in redirecting corporate priorities.

Episode Details

Released: November 2, 2020

Length: 34:00


Line art of Professor Ira M. Millstein on a green background

Ira M. Millstein ’49 is the founding chair of the Ira M. Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership at Columbia Law School and author of The Activist Director: Lessons From the Boardroom and the Future of the Corporation. He is also a senior partner at the international law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, where he practices in the areas of government regulation and antitrust law and counsels boards on issues of corporate governance.

Line art of Leo E. Strine Jr. on a red background

Leo E. Strine Jr. is of counsel in the Corporate Department at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. Prior to joining the firm, he was the chief justice of the Delaware Supreme Court from 2014 to 2019, where he wrote hundreds of opinions in the areas of corporate law, contract law, trusts and estates, criminal law, administrative law, and constitutional law. He serves as the Ira M. Millstein Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Ira M. Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership.

Hosted By:

Line art of Professor Eric Talley on a green background

Eric Talley, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law, writes and researches at the intersection of corporate law, governance, and finance. As a co-director of the Ira M. Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership, Talley shapes research and programs focused on the future of corporate governance and performance. Talley is a frequent commentator in the national media, and he speaks regularly to corporate boards and regulators on issues pertaining to fiduciary duties, governance, and finance. He is a graduate of the University of California, San Diego, and earned his J.D. and Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University.


Banking and Finance Law | Business | Business Organizations Law | Economics | Environmental Law | Health Law and Policy | Income Distribution | Labor and Employment Law | Law | Law and Economics | Medicine and Health Sciences | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Public Health | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Ira M. Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership