Christopher M. Bruner, the Stembler Family Distinguished Professor in Business Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, has contributed a chapter, “Methods of Comparative Corporate Governance,” to a just-published academic handbook on the subject.
Bruner’s chapter appears in Research Handbook on Comparative Corporate Governance. Edited by Afra Afsharipour, Professor of Law and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of California, Davis, School of Law, and Martin Gelter, Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law, the volume was issued by Edward Elgar Publishing.
Methodology has not received sufficient attention in the field of comparative law, and this shortcoming is perhaps even more significant in the specific field of comparative corporate governance, where the general comparative legal literature that does exist on the subject tends to be ignored. While there is assuredly no single, optimal comparative method, it remains critically important for scholars to evaluate whether the approach undertaken is fit for purpose – that is, whether the comparative method adopted is in fact capable of illuminating the subject of inquiry.
This chapter highlights some significant methodological choices and challenges encountered in comparative corporate governance. Part II describes differing comparative postures that one might adopt, emphasizing similarity or difference, respectively – an important threshold consideration, in so far as one often finds what one sets out to find, without recognizing the degree to which such predispositions might cloud the analysis and preclude a fuller account. Part III examines how the law and economics movement, in particular, has affected comparative analysis of corporate governance, critiquing its (implicit) methodology and assessing its impacts. Part IV, then, discusses various choices in research design, emphasizing how the alternatives are impacted by the foregoing dynamics. Part V briefly concludes, calling for methodological self-awareness and candid acknowledgment of the limits of what various comparative approaches to corporate governance can deliver.