Skip to Main Content

Copenhagen Business School logo

Enterprise foundations: A model for corporate reform?

Date and time

Wednesday 1. February 2023 at 10:00 to 12:00

Registration Deadline

Tuesday 31. January 2023 at 16:00


PH26_407, Porcelænshave 26, 2000 Frederiksberg PH26_407
Porcelænshave 26
2000 Frederiksberg

Enterprise foundations: A model for corporate reform?


Enterprise foundations

A model for corporate reform?


1 February, 10:00-12:00

Location: CBS, Porcelænshaven 26, room 407


In this seminar, the CBS Center for Civil Society Studies and the Carlsberg-funded research project Corporate Subjects: An Intellectual History of the Corporation, invites for a discussion on Danish enterprise foundations and to what degree they can pose for a model of corporate reform.

Corporations – and particularly the publicly traded, multinational, shareholder-governed corporation – are today some of the most powerful economic and political entities in the world. Corporations are on the one hand seen as essential agents of economic growth as well as social and economic development, and on the other as the agents of environmental degradation, climate crisis, economic inequality and general mistrust in business and elites. As a result, and particularly since the 2007/8 Financial Crisis, discussions about corporate reform have flourished. 

One model often discussed is the institution of ‘purpose’ or ‘stakeholder corporate governance’ to trump financial, economic or shareholder-value primacy and to align corporate purpose more evenly between a number of different stakeholders such as employees, society and environment. Building on the case of Denmark, this seminar wishes to discuss the model of Enterprise Foundations, and particularly, as a model for corporate reform. 

Very few countries appear to match the comprehensive foundation law framework in Denmark, where big enterprise foundations like Carlsberg, NovoNordisk and Mærsk combine economic competitiveness and performance with the distribution of large sums to non-profit purposes such as culture, science, environment, health care, and other public goods. It is often argued that enterprise foundation ownership gear corporations toward long-term ownership and purpose. In this seminar, we invite for a discussion on the Enterprise Foundation as a model for corporate reform, applying insights from the Danish framework, particularly discussing its transferability, possibility and desirability of corporate reform in the US context.

David Ciepley, PhD, Associate Professor, Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies.

Governance via Legal Entity

David Ciepley is one of the world’s leading scholars on a political theory of the corporation. The political theory of the corporation argues that the dominant (neo)liberal conception of corporations as contractually constituted associations of private property owners, endows them with rights they ought not have, exacerbates their irresponsibility, increases inequality and compromises their principal public benefit of generating long-term growth. In his paper and presentation, Ciepley puts the corporation into a political analytical and historical frame, and argues that the notion of stockholder ownership dominant in US corporate governance theory and practice is legally incorrect and exacerbates corporate misconduct. Ciepley traces what he calls the Great Inversion in corporate governance from medieval and early modern republican corporations to the authoritarian business corporations chartered by modern constitutional democracies. On the basis of this, Ciepley discusses the possible reversal of this inversion in enterprise foundations and whether that could serve as a model for corporate reform in the US.


Mark Ørberg, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Business Humanities and Law, CBS.

The dead hand rises? The Danish foundation model as possible inspiration for a US Federal Statute

Mark Ørberg wrote his PhD-thesis on Danish foundation-law and in his current research he makes for introducing the Danish model in US federal law, combining legal and political considerations. The presented draft paper touch on legal characteristics and arguments for and against the Danish foundation law model. The paper explores the role of the double oversight model in Danish foundation law and the legal concept of a foundation. Moreover, the paper discuss the dynamic with the governing board of the foundation and the foundation authority, protecting the founder’s will expressed in the foundation charter. The paper focuses on a public good variant of the Danish foundation model, because of this variant’s proven ability to meet calls for philanthropy and sustainability in corporate governance. 


If you would like a copy of the papers to be presented, please contact

This seminar is arranged by CBS Center for Civil Society Studies:

And the Carlsberg-funded research project Corporate Subjects: An Intellectual History of the Corporation

Further info: Mathias Hein Jessen,



Event Location

Click to view the event location on Google Maps >

Organizer Contact Information

Copenhagen Business School

Phone: +45 3815 3815

Organizer Contact Information

Copenhagen Business School

Phone: +45 3815 3815