Missing Debtors: National Lawmaking and Global Norm-Making of Corporate Bankruptcy Regimes

Terence C. Halliday*, Susan Block-Lieb, Bruce G. Carruthers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Corporate insolvency is about debt and it always involves debtor corporations as key stakeholders. It should, therefore, follow that stakeholders integral to everyday bargaining over debt management should also be integral to the meta-bargaining that produces the rules that govern everyday corporate bankruptcies. Such is not the case. In many historical circumstances-in countries with economies both advanced and developing; in situations of economic crisis and in ordinary times; in Europe, North America, and Asia-the stakeholders who mobilize to craft national bankruptcy law seldom include debtors. Debtors are also conspicuous by their absence from forums of global norm-making in which international financial institutions or international governance organizations create norms designed to guide national lawmaking. In short, a class of bankruptcy players for whom everyday bargaining over debt obligations is a matter of corporate life or death seldom appears in the forums that institutionalize the rules by which their individual fates are determined. How is this puzzle to be explained? This chapter examines hypotheses that address this issue through three research projects. The first studied the politics behind two landmark pieces of lawmaking in advanced economies-the US Bankruptcy Code of 1978 and the English Insolvency Act of 1986. The second project studied three Asian economies in the wake of the Asian Financial Crisis. The third project examines the decade-long initiatives by the UN Commission on International Trade Law to create global norms for corporate bankruptcy regimes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Debtor World
Subtitle of host publicationInterdisciplinary Perspectives on Debt
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199980000
ISBN (Print)9780199873722
StatePublished - Jan 24 2013


  • Bargaining
  • Corporate insolvency
  • Debt
  • English insolvency act
  • National bankruptcy law
  • UN commission on international trade law
  • US bankruptcy code

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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