Ben Walther


Governance, Corporate Law, Bylaws


This article argues that Delaware corporate law permits shareholders to use bylaws to circumscribe the managerial authority of the board of directors. While shareholders cannot mandate action by the board, they can enact specific prohibitions on its behavior, so long as the board retains enough discretion to implement—in practice, not merely in theory—its managerial policies by other means. The use of such circumscribing bylaws to discourage shirking (or analogous managerial abuses) by the directors or officers resembles the use of negative covenants in debt contracts that seek to prevent the debtor from squandering assets. Bylaw governance thus subtly but significantly reallocates governance power within the corporation, so as to reduce the agency costs of management. Its legal validity should also prompt courts and scholars alike to focus less on the quantity of power wielded by the shareholders, and more on the ways that power can be configured to produce managerial efficiencies.



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