On September 17, 2018, Jeff Van Duzer was the guest speaker in BLAW 461. As you may recall from that class session, Van Duzer is the author of a book, Why Business Matters to God, in which he makes a theological case for what the purpose of business should be. Van Duzer’s position, paraphrased for simplicity, is as follows:
The purpose of business is to: 1) provide goods and services that enable the community to flourish; and 2) provide opportunities for employees to have meaningful work that will allow them to express their God-given creativity. Van Duzer is clear in his writings that he does not view profit maximization as a legitimate purpose of business. In fact, he would argue that any business that is focused on profits rather than providing pro-social goods and services and meaningful work for employees is not doing what God desires for the world.
This is a controversial assertion, as Van Duzer knows, yet it is one that he has defended in numerous forums.Your task in completing this project is to make two evaluations:
1. Is Van Duzer’s proposal legally allowable under the current state of corporate law? If it is not currently allowable, what would need to happen for it to be legal?
2. Is Van Duzer’s proposal advisable, from at least the following perspectives?
a. Capital and financial markets (i.e., Will a company that is managed in the manner Van Duzer proposes be able to attract investors and lenders?)
b. Customers (i.e., Will customers want to buy goods and services from a company that has some purpose other than profit maximization?)
c. Managers and workers (i.e., Will people want to work for a company like this, and how would employees with those motivations be managed?)
There are numerous resources in the Major Project #2 file folder in Canvas. I expect you to cite and make use of all the posted materials. You will also want to do additional outside research. The first question (Is Van Duzer’s approach allowed by law?) is exceptionally hard to answer in a succinct manner, and I expect you will need to do considerable thinking and writing on this subject. An easy answer to that question is probably wrong, because it would fail to do justice to the complexity of the issue.
I will grade your written materials based on the following criteria:
1. Have you written a sufficiently lengthy and well-though-out essay? It must be 1700-2000 words.
2. How close to perfection is your grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.?
3.How coherent, consistent, and logical are your positions on the two questions noted above?
4. How well have you incorporated a discussion of the various legal standards in making your evaluation? In other words, you must cite all of the readings
in your evaluative paper and make extensive use of those sources in your analysis.
5. Have you taken a firm, identifiable position on whether Van Duzer’s approach is legally allowed, and whether it is advisable?
6.How well have you anticipated potential objections to your position? Because multiple positions are represented in the legal literature on
corporate purpose, you must acknowledge that positions contrary to your ultimate conclusion are plausible, yet explain why the objections to your evaluation are unconvincing.
7. How extensively have you discussed the secondary authorities (journal articles, etc.) in arriving at your defensible conclusion?
8.You may complete this assignment in groups of three students or less. All students who complete the assignment in groups will receive the same grade, regardless of their level of contribution to the assignment. There is no requirement that you complete the assignment in a group, however, and I presume that some students will want to complete it by themselves.
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