Call for Papers: The Future of the Firm

Call for Papers: The Future of the Firm

December 10 2018

Conference Announcement and Call for Papers

The Future of the Firm

The Impact of Technology, Innovation and Industrial Change

Deadline: 1 March 2019

Date and Venue: 5 July 2019 | University College London


University of Cambridge, Centre for Corporate and Commercial Law, and University College London, Centre for Commercial Law, with support from the European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) are inviting submissions for the above conference which will take place in London on 5 July 2019. Click here for the print version of the call for papers.

Conference Overview

Corporations, and other forms of business associations, have been the subject of intense study including their history, governance, and obligations to stakeholders and the public at large. However, surprisingly, the future of business and the corporate form has been somewhat neglected. Triggered in part by technological advances in recent years, this is now changing. The Conference on the Future of the Firm aims to contribute to this emerging scholarly focus, bringing together research and stimulating debate in a cutting edge area of the law.

Submissions are invited on the following topics:

Firm Size, Structure, and Governance

This stream will examine the impact of technology and shifts in make-or-buy decisions on future firms.  Will business be dominated by a few giant corporations, a large number of small firms, global alliances and networks, new ‘leaderless’ or algorithmic organizations, or a  combination of these occurrences? What will be the influence of blockchain and other technologies on firms’ boundaries, governance, and corporate law issues such as voting and shareholder engagement? Also, document automation and AI facilitate the foundation and governance of firms both for private stakeholders and public services involved. Which changes do we see and what does this mean for the law?

Capital and Funding

According to some commentators, we are experiencing the death of the public corporation. The number of listed companies is falling and different forms of private funding are increasingly common. New, technology based forms of funding (including ICOs and ETOs) are emerging. In this stream, the focus will be on the prevalent structures and sources of funding of tomorrow. In addition, technological advances as a driver for innovation of finance will be examined.

Leadership and Responsibility

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) raise the prospect of AI taking on the role of directors and managers. Vice versa, commentators have proposed that AI should be equipped with legal personality. This stream will examine these developments’ potential governance effects. It will also be concerned with how rules on corporate, managerial and technological liability might have to adapt.

Employment and Agency

Technological advances, the gig economy, and increasing automation make it uncertain whether traditional ‘jobs’ will survive. In this stream, the focus will be on issues surrounding the ‘death of employment’ as well as how agency law and employer/employee liability might develop.

Corporate Purpose; Human Rights and Privacy Impacts

Recent events – from financial crises to political upheaval in the UK and US – indicate a new wave of anti-corporatism. The question as to the ‘correct’ corporate purpose has therefore gained new importance. Relatedly corporate use of AI and Big Data is facing a conundrum. On the one hand, it can provide solutions to complex problems leading to increases in economic growth and shared prosperity. On the other hand, it can drive inequality and actively be used to deny privacy and human rights. This stream’s guiding question is thus how firms can reconcile this conflict.

The End of Corporate Insolvency Law

Corporate insolvency law is often understood as the solution of coordination problems in financial distress. However, if technology improves the outcome of asset auctions, business rescue becomes less attractive. Smart contracts and blockchain may also breathe new life into concepts of automated insolvency. This stream explores the challenges of dealing with the financial distress of firms in this new environment.


Submission Process

To submit a paper for consideration, please send your paper, with your name and contact details on the file’s cover page, as a Word or PDF attachment via email to:

The conference convenors aim to publish selected conference papers as an edited collection with a leading publishing house. Please do not submit work that will be or has been published elsewhere. Deadline for submission of papers for the conference is March 1, 2019. All submissions will be reviewed by the Conference Committee. Authors will be notified whether their paper has been accepted for the conference by April 15, 2019.


The conference will take place on July 5, 2019 at University College London, in London, United Kingdom. We currently envisage having several panels, organized thematically around the research streams identified above. Unfortunately, no contributions can be made toward presenters’ travel and other expenses. Please direct questions to Felix Steffek ( or Martin Petrin (