Margaret Mendenhall Blair

Milton R. Underwood Chair in Free Enterprise

Margaret Blair is an economist who focuses on corporate law and finance. Her current research focuses on five areas: team production and the role of corporate boards of directors, the legal concept of "personhood," the historical treatment of corporations by the Supreme Court, the role of private-sector governance arrangements in contract enforcement, and the problem of excessive leverage in financial markets. Professor Blair joined Vanderbilt's law faculty in 2004 as part of the team supporting the Law and Business Program and was appointed to the Milton R. Underwood Chair in Free Enterprise in 2010. She had previously taught at Georgetown University Law Center, where she became a visiting professor in 1996 and served as a Sloan Visiting Professor and as research director for the Sloan-GULC Project on Business Institutions, from 2000 through June 2004. She has also been a senior fellow in the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution, where she directed research and wrote about corporate governance and the role of human capital in corporations. She served on the board of directors of Sonic Corporation from 2001 to 2006 and currently serves on the board of WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production).

Research Interests

Team production and the legal structure of business organizations; corporate governance; management law and finance, the historical treatment of corporations by the Supreme Court, the role of corporate boards of directors

Representative Publications

  • “The Derivative Nature of Corporate Constitutional Rights,” 56 William and Mary Law Review 1673 (2015) (with Elizabeth Pollman)
    Full Text | WWW
  • “The Four Functions of Corporate Personhood,” Handbook of Economic Organization, (Anna Grandori, ed.), Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd. (2012) 
    Full Text | SSRN
  • “Financial Innovation, Leverage, Bubbles, and the Distribution of Income,” 30 Review of Banking and Financial Law (2011). Republished in 54 Corporate Practice Commentator 1 (2012)
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN
  • "The New Role for Assurance Services in Global Commerce," 33 Journal of Corporation Law 2 (2008) (with Cynthia A. Williams and Li-Wen Lin)
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN
  • "Relational Investing and Firm Performance," 27 Journal of Financial Research 1 (2004) (with Sanjai Bhagat and Bernard Black)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "Locking in Capital: What Corporate Law Achieved for Business Organizers in the Nineteenth Century," 51 UCLA Law Review 387 (2003).
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN
  • "Trust, Trustworthiness, and the Behavioral Foundations of Corporate Law," 149 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 1735 (2001) (with Lynn Stout)
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN
  • "Firm-Specific Human Capital and the Theories of the Firm," in Employees and Corporate Governance, 58-90 (Blair and Roe, eds., Brookings, 2000)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "A Team Production Theory of Corporation Law," 85 Virginia Law Review 247 (1999) (with Lynn Stout). Reprinted as the lead article in 24 Journal of Corporate Law 751 (1999). This article was recently identified by Michigan Law Review as one of the ten most-cited articles of all time in the field of Corporate and Securities Law.
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN
  • Ownership and Control: Rethinking Corporate Governance for the Twenty-first Century (Brookings, 1995). This book won an academic book publishers award, and has been translated into Chinese and republished by the Chinese Social Science Publishing House in Beijing.
    Full Text | WWW

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Contact Information

(615) 322-6087 (voice)
(615) 322-6631 (fax)
Room 257 (office)

Curriculum Vitae



M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D. Yale University
B.A. University of Oklahoma