25 U.N.S.W.L.J. 556 (2002)
An Alternative Voice in and around Corporate Governance

handle is hein.journals/swales25 and id is 570 raw text is: UNSW Law Journal

AN ALTERNATIVE VOICE IN AND AROUND
CORPORATE GOVERNANCE
SALLY WHEELER*
[I]mages of soft and hard, fluid and solid, open and closed, particular and universal,
connection and distance, reception and assertion, are gendered in the sense that they
ride on an already constituted and widely circulated set of understandings about
appropriately feminine and masculine ways of being in the world.1
I INTRODUCTION
Much of the work within the social sciences that offers a feminist reading or
understanding of particular phenomena is based upon the work of Carol
Gilligan,2 the precise nature of which I turn to later in this paper. Gilligan's work
is often used as a way of labelling an oppositional voice to a predominant culture
without necessarily offering an alternative paradigm. This is certainly the case
within the scholarship on legal structures for corporations. There is an emerging
literature that describes itself as taking a feminist approach to the corporation,
while drawing upon Gilligan's work.3 It is presented as an oppositional voice to
what can best be described as the 'gung ho, never mind human needs and
frailties' approach of law and economics.4
The major weakness of this oppositional voice to date is that it refers to a
system built around the ethics of care -       a system central to Gilligan's work -
yet fails to present a picture of what a corporate structure and corporate activities
*    Professor of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London.
1    Kathy Ferguson, 'On Bringing More Theory, More Voices and More Politics to the Study of
Organization' (1994) 1 Organization 81, 91.
2    Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice (1982).
3    See, eg, Theresa Gabaldon, 'The Lemonade Stand: Feminist and Other Reflections on the Limited
Liability of Corporate Shareholders' (1992) 45 Vanderbilt Law Review 1387; Kathleen Lahey and Sarah
Salter, 'Corporate Law in Legal Theory and Legal Scholarship: From Classicism to Feminism' (1985) 23
Osgoode Hall Law Journal 543; Alice Belcher, 'Gendered Company: Views of Corporate Governance at
the Institute of Directors' (1997) V(1) Feminist Legal Studies 57; Terry O'Neill, 'The Patriarchal
Meaning of Contract: Feminist Reflections on the Corporate Governance Debate' in Fiona Macmillan
Patfield (ed), Perspectives on Company Law (1997) vol 2, 27.
4    Possibly the best description of this sort of scholarship, which emphasises its rhetorical power and
dependence on conceptual simplicity, is provided by Mary Frug, who describes it as 'singular, daunting,
rigid and cocksure': Mary Frug, Postmodern Legal Feminism (1992) 116.

Volume 25(2)

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