Re-discovering an Organizational Form: Public Interest-orientation as Corner Stone of the Modern Corporation

Stephan Leixnering, Renate Meyer

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


The corporation is the iconic emblem of modern capitalism. While the corporate form is today widely perceived as an instrument to maximize shareholder value, its institutionalization as an organizational form heavily built on the orientation towards public interests as a constitutive element. In this paper, we trace public interest-orientation in the history of the Austrian corporation, where it has continuously been present for about 200 years. In 1937, public interest-orientation became a codified obligation that, slightly reworded in 1965, has remained an integral part of corporate law until today. Though unquestioned as a principle ever since, its meanings and practical implications for business life have been highly contested, as substantial changes in the political and economic context indicate. As this paper is work in progress, we eventually reflect on the conceptual relevance of such insights for organization studies and formulate avenues for further research we are presently working on.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventEURAM 2016: Manageable Cooperation? - Université Paris Est Créteil, Paris, France
Duration: 1 Jun 20164 Jun 2016
Conference number: 16


ConferenceEURAM 2016
LocationUniversité Paris Est Créteil
Internet address


  • Emergence of corporate form
  • Public interests

Cite this