Photo of Eric W. Orts

Eric W. Orts

Guardsmark Professor

Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics and Management

Director, Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership

Research Interests: corporate governance, environmental management, environmental law and policy, securities regulation, theories of the firm, professional ethics

Links: CV, Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership

Contact Information

Address: 648 Jon M. Huntsman Hall, 3730 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Email: ortse@wharton.upenn.edu
Office: (215) 898-3018

Overview

Education

JSD, Columbia University, 1994; JD, University of Michigan, 1988; MA, New School for Social Research, 1985; BA, Oberlin College, 1982.

Career and Recent Professional Awards; Teaching Awards

MBA Excellence in Teaching Award for an Elective Course, 2011.

Academic Positions Held

Wharton: 1991-present (named Guardsmark Professor in 2001); faculty director, Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, 2007 to present; faculty co-director, FINRA at Wharton Institute, 2000 to present.  Visiting appointments:  Harvard University (Eugene P. Beard Faculty Fellow, Center for Ethics and the Professions); University of Leuven (Fulbright Visiting Professor, law faculty);  University of Michigan Law School; NYU School of Law; UCLA School of Law; University of California Santa Barbara, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management; University of Sydney Law School; and Tsinghua University, School of Economics and Management (Freeman Foundation Visiting Professor).  Fall 2013:  Visiting Professor of Legal Studies, Business Ethics and Management, INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France.

Other Positions

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, associate attorney, 1988-90; Chemical Bank Fellow in Corporate Social Responsibility, Columbia University School of Law, 1990-91.

Professional Leadership

Founding board member, Alliance for Research in Corporate Sustainability, 2009-present; editorial board, Business Ethics Quarterly, 2011-present; consulting member, American Law Institute, 1997-present.

Research

Research

Current research focuses on several projects:  completing a book under contract with Oxford University Press on "Rethinking the Firm," an interdisciplinary sequel to "Business Persons:  A Legal Theory of the Firm" (OUP 2013); writing a book proposal with a co-author on "Climate Contracts" that expands on an article by the same name; and doing research for an article on "Constitutional Commodification" to be written with Amy Sepinwall.


  • Sarah E. Light, Eric W. Orts (Work In Progress), Theories of Environmental Regulation in a World of Public and Private Governance.
  • Eric W. Orts (2011), Climate Contracts, Virginia Environmental Law Journal, 29, 197 - 236.  
  • Eric W. Orts, Alan Strudler (2009), Putting a Stake in Stakeholder Theory, Business Ethics Quarterly, 88, 605 - 615.
  • Eric W. Orts, The Challenge of a New Environmental Contract    Description
  • Eric W. Orts, Cary Coglianese (2007), Collaborative Environmental Law: Pro and Con, University of Pennsylvania Law Review - PENNumbra, 156.  Related Materials
  • Eric W. Orts, "Ethics, Risk, Environmental Management, and Corporate Responsibility". In Environmental Protection and the Social Responsibility of Firms: Perspectives from Law, Economics, and Business , edited by Robert Stavins, Bruce Hay, (2005), 184 - 196.
  • Eric W. Orts, "From Corporate Social Responsibility to Global Citizenship". In The INSEAD-Wharton Alliance on Globalizing, edited by Hubert Gatignon, John Kimberly, (2004), 331 - 352.
  • Eric W. Orts, "War and the Corporation". In Financial Times Handbook of Management, edited by Stuart Crainer, Des Dearlove, (2004), 667 - 678.  Related Materials
  • Eric W. Orts (2003), Environmental Law with Chinese Characteristics, William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, 11 (2).  
  • Eric W. Orts, Alan Strudler (2002), The Ethical and Environmental Limits of Stakeholder Theory, Business Ethics Quarterly, 12, 215 - 233.
  • Eric W. Orts (2002), War and the Business Corporation, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, 35, 549 - 584.
  • Eric W. Orts (2002), War and the Corporation, business + strategy, 13, 44 - 51.
  • Eric W. Orts, "Autopoiesis and the Natural Environment". In Law’s New Boundaries, edited by Jiri Priban, David Nelken, (2001), 159 - 178.
  • Eric W. Orts, "Conflict of Interest on Corporate Boards". In Conflict of Interest and the Professions, edited by Michael Davis, Andrew Stark, (2001), 129 - 155.
  • Eric W. Orts, Kurt Deketelaere, eds., Environmental Contracts (2001).  Abstract  Related Materials
  • Eric W. Orts (2001), The Rule of Law in China, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, 34, 44 - 115.
  • Eric W. Orts, Alan Strudler (1999), Moral Principle in the Law of Insider Trading, Texas Law Review, 78 (2).  
  • Eric W. Orts, "An American Perspective on Belgian and British Environmental Law within Europe". In Environmental Law in Belgium and the United Kingdom, edited by Kurt Deketelaere, (1999), 321 - 328.
  • Eric W. Orts, Paul Kleindorfer (1998), Informational Regulation of Environmental Risks, Risk Analysis, 18, 155 - 170.
  • Eric W. Orts (1998), Shirking and Sharking: A Legal Theory of the Firm, Yale Law and Policy Review, 16, 265 - 329 .  
  • Eric W. Orts (1998), The Future of Enterprise Organization, Michigan Law Review, 96, 1947 - 1974.  
  • Eric W. Orts, "A North American Legal Perspective on Stakeholder Management Theory". In Perspectives on Company Law: 2 , edited by Fiona Macmillan Patfield, (1997), 165 - 179.
  • Eric W. Orts (1997), Book Review: Bowman's 'The Modern Corporation and American Political Thought', American Journal of Sociology, 102, 1447 - 1448.
  • Eric W. Orts (1997), Environmental Disclosure and Evidentiary Privilege, University of Illinois Law Review, 1997, 1 - 69.
  • Eric W. Orts (1997), Quality Circles in Law Teaching, Journal of Legal Education, 47, 425 - 431.
  • Eric W. Orts (1995), Reflexive Environmental Law, Northwestern Law Review, 89, 1227 - 1340 .  
  • Eric W. Orts (1995), A Model of Reflexive Environmental Regulation, Business Ethics Quarterly, 5, 779 - 794.
  • Eric W. Orts (1995), Simple Rules and the Perils of Reductionist Legal Thought, Boston University Law Review, 75, 1441 - 1479.
  • Eric W. Orts, "The Legitimacy of Multinational Corporations". In Progressive Corporate Law, edited by Lawrence Mitchell, (1995), 247 - 279.
  • Eric W. Orts (1993), The Complexity and Legitimacy of Corporate Law, Washington and Lee Law Review, 50, 1565 - 1623 .  
  • Eric W. Orts (1993), Positive Law and Systemic Legitimacy, Ratio Juris
  • Eric W. Orts (1993), Towards an Ethics of Social Systems (book review), The Responsive Community: Rights and Responsibilities, 4, 60 - 64.
  • Eric W. Orts (1992), Beyond Shareholders, George Washington Law Review, 61, 14 - 135.

Awards And Honors

  • Excellence in Teaching Award for MBA Elective Course, 2011

In The News

Knowledge @ Wharton

Teaching

MBA and undergraduate courses:  Responsibility in Professional Services; Environmental Management: Law and Policy; Law of Corporate Management and Finance.

Ph.D. courses:  Foundations of Business Law; Theories of the Business Enterprise.

Undergraduate honors courses:  Introduction to Law; Environmental Management: Law and Policy (seminar).

Executive education:  faculty director, Business Sustainability Leadership (Wharton-San Francisco); faculty co-director, FINRA Institute at Wharton, Certified Compliance and Regulatory Professional Program.

Courses

Current

  • LGST101 - Introduction to Law and Legal Process

    This course presents law as an evolving social institution, with special emphasis on the legal regulation of business. It considers basic concepts of law and legal process, in the U.S. and other legal systems, and introduces the fundamentals of rigorous legal analysis. An in-depth examination of contract law is included.

    LGST101301  ( Syllabus

  • LGST612 - Responsibility in Professional Services

    This course uses a professional services context to introduce students to important ethical and legal challenges they will face as leaders in such fields as financial services, health care, real estate, and consulting. However, the scope is not limited to these contexts and will be equally useful to students preparing for any managerial position that is likely to place them in advisory and/or agency roles owing duties to employers, clients, suppliers, and customers. Although coverage will vary depending on instructor, the focus of the course will be on developing skills in ethical and legal analyses that can assist managers as they make both individual-level and firm-level decisions about the responsible courses of action when duties, loyalties, rules, norms, and interests are in conflict. For example, the rules of insider trading may form the basis for lessons in some sections.

    Group assignments, role-plays, and case studies may, at the instructor's discretion, be used to help illustrate the basic theoretical frameworks. The type of thematic question the course may address is whether management can or should be considered a "profession" in the ways that law and medicine are. In some sections, students will form "industry groups" representing different service sectors. These groups will research and present critiques of existing ethical codes as well as draft their own individual "personal codes of conduct" based on course materials and industry norms, as well as personal and/or religious values

    Format: class participation, quiz, group report, and final paper. Materials: coursepack. Prerequisites: none.

    LGST612012  ( Syllabus

Previous

  • LGST101 - Introduction to Law and Legal Process

    This course presents law as an evolving social institution, with special emphasis on the legal regulation of business. It considers basic concepts of law and legal process, in the U.S. and other legal systems, and introduces the fundamentals of rigorous legal analysis. An in-depth examination of contract law is included.

  • LGST202 - Law of Corporate Management and Finance

    This course provides an introduction to the law of corporate management and finance, focusing on large publicly held corporations. It is presented from the perspective that before too long virtually all students will serve on one or more corporate boards of directors and that each should, therefore, know about the duties owed by directors and officers to those toward whom they bear a fiduciary duty. The course covers the basic obligations of corporate directors and managers under state corporate law and the federal securities laws. It also considers the rights and responsibilites of other major stake holders in the governance of public corporations, including shareholders, creditors/bondholders, employees (including corporate executives), investment bankers, corporate lawyers, and accountants. Particular attention is given to the law of mergers and acquisitions. Important issues of social policy concerning large business corporations are also discussed.

  • LGST215 - Environmental Management: Law & Policy

    This course provides an introduction to environmental management by focusing on foundational concepts of environmental law and policy and how they affect business decisions. The primary aim of the course is to give students a deeper practical sense of the important relationship between business and the natural environment, the existing legal and policy framework of environmental protection, and how business managers can think about managing their relationship with both the environment and the law.

  • LGST612 - Responsibility in Professional Services

    This course uses a professional services context to introduce students to important ethical and legal challenges they will face as leaders in such fields as financial services, health care, real estate, and consulting. However, the scope is not limited to these contexts and will be equally useful to students preparing for any managerial position that is likely to place them in advisory and/or agency roles owing duties to employers, clients, suppliers, and customers. Although coverage will vary depending on instructor, the focus of the course will be on developing skills in ethical and legal analyses that can assist managers as they make both individual-level and firm-level decisions about the responsible courses of action when duties, loyalties, rules, norms, and interests are in conflict. For example, the rules of insider trading may form the basis for lessons in some sections.

  • LGST815 - Environmental Management: Law & Policy

    This course provides an introduction to environmental management by focusing on foundational concepts of environmental law and policy and how they affect business decisions. The primary aim of the course is to give students a deeper practical sense of the important relationship between business and the natural environment, the existing legal and policy framework of environmental protection, and how business managers can think about managing their relationship with both the environment and the law.

  • LGST999 - Independent Study and Research

    Primarily for advanced students who work with individual faculty upon permission. Intended to go beyond existing graduate courses in the study of specific problems or theories or to provide work opportunities in areas not covered by existing courses.