The Human Corporation: Some Thoughts on Hume, Smith, and Buffett (Symposium: Warren Buffet)

Lawrence E. Mitchell, Case Western University School of Law


While corporate governance theory has raged during the past fifteen years over matters of contractarianism, communitarianism, irrelevancy, and the like, Warren Buffett has been writing to the stockholders of Berkshire Hathaway about aspects of a model of corporate governance that have overtones of an earlier view of the obligations of corporate management.' Together these pieces set out a theme of classic fiduciary stewardship that transcends the diluted norm underlying modern corporate law over a counterpoint of participatory partnership that suggests radical innovations in corporate responsibility. I shall attempt to take what I perceive to be the central motif of these ideas about corporate governance and tie them down to the fundamental understanding of fiduciary obligation they instantiate.