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9 - Asset Manager Capitalism as a Corporate Governance Regime

from III - Corporate Power and Concentration

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 October 2021

Jacob S. Hacker
Affiliation:
Yale University, Connecticut
Alexander Hertel-Fernandez
Affiliation:
Columbia University, New York
Paul Pierson
Affiliation:
University of California, Berkeley
Kathleen Thelen
Affiliation:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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Summary

For too long, students of the political economy of corporate governance have been enthralled by the language of ownership and control. This language stems from Berle and Means (1932), who observed that trust-busting policies and the diversification of robber-baron fortunes had dispersed stock ownership in the United States, while concentrating corporate control in the hands of a small class of managers.1 Jensen and Meckling’s (1976) agency theory, while reiterating the notions of shareholder dispersion and weakness, conceptualized shareholders as principals – the only actors with a strong material interest in the economic performance of the corporation. Offering a simple solution to what Berle and Means had considered a complex political problem, agency theory reduced corporate governance to the problem of protecting outside minority shareholders against “expropriation” by insiders, namely corporate managers and workers (La Porta et al. 2000: 4).

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Chapter
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The American Political Economy
Politics, Markets, and Power
, pp. 270 - 294
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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