In every developed market economy, the law provides for a set of standard-form legal entities. In the United States, these entities include, among others, the business corporation, the cooperative corporation, the nonprofit corporation, the municipal corporation, the limited liability company, the general partnership, the limited partnership, the private trust, the charitable trust, and marriage. To an important degree, these legal entities are simply standard-form contracts among the parties who participate in an enterprise-including, in particular, the organization's owners, managers, and creditors. It is therefore natural to ask what more, if anything, these entities offer. Do they-as the current literature increasingly implies-play essentially the same role performed by privately supplied standard-form contracts, just providing off-the-rack terms that simplify negotiation and drafting of routine agreements? Or do the various legal entities provided by organizational law permit the creation of relationships that could not practicably be formed by contract alone? In short, what, if any, essential role does organizational law play in modern society?
Date of Authorship for this Version
Hansmann, Henry and Kraakman, Reinier, "The Essential Role of Organizational Law" (2000). Faculty Scholarship Series. 5062.