The Modern Corporation Statement on Management
7 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2016
Date Written: November 2, 2016
The rise of modern corporations has been accompanied by an expansion of salaried executives who have replaced owner-managers. With this expansion, the new class of managers/executives came to regard themselves as stewards of large and complex corporations, and not principally or exclusively as agents for the owners. Emerging as a self- styled ‘profession’, there was a continuous debate around the necessity for the corporation to be responsible to the collective and to its stakeholders. During long parts of the twentieth century the professed intent was to balance and synthesize a plurality of interests in order to ensure the long term survival and success of the corporation, pursue national strategic interests, create employment, support networks of suppliers, develop new technology as well as create an adequate or satisfactory return for shareholders.
The rise of agency theory in the late 1970s and early 1980s challenged this understanding of management. Arguing that markets rather than managers provide an efficient allocation of scarce resources, it pushed an agenda in which the corporation had to pursue one single goal – the maximization of shareholder value (MSV) and that managers should be incentivised to respond to (financial) market forces. This idea has today become a highly influential doctrine which infuses senior executive thinking, investors thinking, corporate governance theory and public policy and regulatory decision making. Backed by this belief, many managers now act on the basis of a folk wisdom that shareholders are the only important constituency, which leads them to deliver short-term strategic decisions, high executive remuneration, and offshoring strategies with regard to manufacturing and finance. This comes at the detriment of broader and longer-term perspectives on the purpose of the firm in modern societies and has created worse management and less competitive companies. It is ironic that the obsession with MSV has actually destroyed long-term shareholder value and that it has significantly decreased the average life span of corporations during the past 30 years.
We provide this Summary of certain fundamentals of management in an effort to help prevent analytical errors which can have severe and damaging effects on corporations.
Keywords: Corporate, Governance, Company, Law, Management, Shareholder, Value, Stakeholder, Directors, Board
JEL Classification: M00, M1, M10, M12, L00, L1, L10, L2, L20, L21, L22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation