A research center of the Yale School of Management, the mission of the YCCG is to enhance the understanding of the role of the corporation in society. This mission is premised on an acknowledgement that society grants corporations the right to exist to the extent that their existence serves society. Even for-profit corporations have a goal of improving the “aggregate welfare of a firm’s shareholders, employees, suppliers, and customers without undue sacrifice-and, if possible, with benefit-to third parties such as local communities and beneficiaries of the natural environment.”
Yet, despite the fact that corporations exist to improve the aggregate welfare, there is considerable cross-national and temporal variation in the degree to which societies have derived collective benefit from the corporation, which in turn gives rise to vital questions:
What are the sources of this variation?
What changes in the governance of corporations will enhance the potential societal benefit from the existence of corporations?
While pursuing the answers to these questions, the YCCG
draws together scholars from a variety of disciplines
facilitates the interaction of these scholars with policymakers and business leaders
promotes the dissemination of research that is relevant to answering these questions
This is a time when there is a broadening of hopes and expectations as to what corporations can and should provide. Not only does society depend on corporations to coordinate flows of capital and organize work, but society is increasingly looking to corporations to steward the wealth accumulation of individuals in the form of pensions, to provide for the health and welfare of employees, and more generally to share the responsibility for the utilization of the world’s resources. The waves of privatization around the world over the last three decades have indicated that enthusiasm for the for-profit corporate form is especially pronounced.
Notably this increased reliance on the corporate form coexists with increased skepticism and mistrust as to whether or not corporations do in fact further aggregate welfare. In the United States, social movements, ranging from the shareholder value movement in the 1980s to the Sarbanes Oxley legislation to current calls for reform of the mutual fund industry, have been directed at encouraging corporations to promote the aggregate welfare. Moreover, in countries and regions where the corporate form is not ubiquitous, one can observe considerable concern about what the increased proliferation of this form might mean for their societies.
Because of the increasing significance of the corporate form as well as the heightened level of concern, it is critically important that there be an enlightened understanding of the ways in which corporate organization can better serve society. The scholarship and dissemination efforts of the YCCG serve this end.