Professor Susan Mary Watson

MJur, LLB (Hons)

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Dean of Business & Economics


Professor Susan Watson holds joint chairs in the Faculty of Law, and the Faculty of Business and Economics at the Univerity of Auckland. She is the Dean of the University of Auckland Business School.

Professor Watson researches and teaches primarily corporate law and corporate governance. She has a particular interest in the corporate form and in her research seeks to understand how the form developed, why it is so successful, and the economic and societal impact of corporations. Her current monograph The Making of the Modern Company focusses on these questions. Her research has been published widely in New Zealand and internationally; she has edited and co-authored  treatises and textbooks, five edited collections and numerous articles and book chapters. Her work has been cited and discussed by other scholars in the field and by courts at all levels including the UK Supreme Court. From 2007 until 2014  Susan was joint editor of the New Zealand Business Law Quarterly,  and is currently the New Zealand editor for the Journal of Business Law. In 2016 she won the Legal Research Foundation Sir Ian Barker Published Article Award for How the Company Became an Entity - A New Understanding of Corporate Law. Her most recent book is Corporate Law in New Zealand (Thomson Reuters) jointly edited with Professor Lynne Taylor of Canterbury University.  She is a Research Member of the European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) the only New Zealander to be appointed to date.

Professor Watson has been a visiting Professor at Vanderbilt University (2008, 2012,2018) Tilburg University and in 2018 a visiting academic in the Oxford Law Faculty. She was elected president of the Society of Corporate Law Academics (SCoLa)  at the beginning of 2020; the first President for the Association elected from outside Australia where it is primarily based.

Before joining the University, Susan worked as a staff solicitor and associate in two city law firms, and taught part of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies law professionals course. Before joining the Law School she was Professor of Commercial Law in the Business School where she was Head of Department from 2008 to the end of 2010 and Associate Dean Academic Faculty in 2011. She was Deputy Dean of the Law School from 2014 until the end of 2017, Deputy Dean of the Busienss School for the second half of 2019 and has been Dean of the Business School since the beginning of 2020.

Research | Current

Susan is particularly interested in the corporation as an entity and legal person that is also a fund, and the ramifications of this conceptualisation of the corporate form including the role of the board and the company considered in its economic, and .sociological contexts. She has written a series of articles about the modern company or corporation, how it evolved to their current form, how states can best regulate the world’s dominant legal structure and in a world where expectations of the role of institutions are shifting how corporations themselves can best balance the interests of shareholders, stakeholders and society.   Susan is part of a research project looking at the relationship between leadership and governance, and is writing a monograph on the development of the modern corporate form and  implications for contemporary corporate governance. 

Susan also has research interests in corporate governance and the role of the board and obligations of directors. She has written extensively on this area for both New Zealand and international journals.



Teaching | Current

  • 2015    Company Law
  • 2010    Honours course on issues in company and contract law
  • 2015    LAWCOMM 709    Corporate Governance

Postgraduate supervision

Current- Lynn Buckley Duty of Good faith and sustainability- PhD

Current- John Land- Corporate Transactions- PhD

Completed- Heida Donegan - Legal transplants in Chinese Corporate Governance- PhD

Completed - Wei Feng - Political Deteminants of Corporate Governance- PhD

Completed -Rebecca Hirsch- Governance of Family Businesses -PhD

Completed -Wenge Wang- Independent Directors in China- PhD


  •  2021 Research Member, European Corporate Goverance Institute
  • 2020- Dean The University of Auckland Business School
  •  2020-2022 President Corporate Law Teachers Association
  • 2015 Legal Research Foundation Sir Ian Barker Published Article Award for How the Company Became an Entity - A New Understanding of Corporate Law. This award is given for the best article, essay or discrete book chapter published by a New Zealand-based author in 2015. 
  • 2004    Teaching Excellence Award


Dean of the University of Auckland Business School 2020-

Deputy Dean of the University of Auckland Business School July- December 2019

Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Law 2014- 2017

Associate Dean Academic Faculty, Faculty of Business and Economics 2013

Head of Department of Commercial Law 2008-2010

Areas of expertise

  • Company law
  • Theory of the company
  • Corporate governance

Committees/Professional groups/Services



  • President, CLTA 2020-2022
  • Legal Research Foundation Council 2014-2017
  • Corporate Law Teachers Association Council 2018-
  • Faculty of Business and Economic Equal Opportunities Officer 2002- 2010

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Watson, S. M. (2018). The Corporate Legal Entity as a Fund. Journal of Business Law (6), 467-484.
  • Watson, S. M. (2018). Corporate Law and Governance Reviews. New Zealand Law Review (2), 275-314.
  • Watson, S. M. (2018). The Corporate Legal Person. Journal of Corporate Law Studies10.1080/14735970.2018.1435951
  • Watson, S., & Vasudev, P. M. (Eds.) (2017). Innovations in corporate governance: Global perspectives. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing. Pages: 253. 10.4337/9781786432858
  • Watson, S. M. (2015). Corporate law and Governance. New Zealand Law Review, 2015 (2), 239-258.
  • Watson, S. M. (2015). How the Company Became an Entity: A New Understanding of Corporate Law. Journal of Business Law (1), 120-141. Related URL.
  • Thomas, R. S., & Watson, S. M. (2013). Should New Zealand Adopt Say on Pay?. New Zealand Business Law Quarterly, 19 (2), 111-137.
  • Farrar, J., & Watson, S. (Eds.) (2013). Company and securities law in New Zealand (2nd edition). Wellington, New Zealand: Brookers Ltd. Pages: 1399.


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 5, Room 503
New Zealand

Web links