New Thinking on "Shareholder Primacy"
AbstractBy the beginning of the twenty-first century, many observers had come to believe that U.S. corporate law should, and does, embrace a “shareholder primacy” rule that requires corporate directors to maximize shareholder wealth as measured by share price. This Essay argues that such a view is mistaken.As a positive matter, U.S. corporate law and practice does not require directors to maximize “shareholder value” but instead grants them a wide range of discretion, constrained only at the margin by market forces, to sacrifice shareholder wealth in order to benefit other constituencies and the firm itself. Although recent “reforms” designed to promote greater shareholder power have begun to limit this discretion, U.S. corporate governance remains director-centric.As a normative matter, several lines of theory have emerged in modern corporate scholarship that independently explain why director governance of public firms is desirable from shareholders’ own perspective. These theories suggest that if we want to protect the interests of shareholders as a class over time—rather than the interest of a single shareholder in today’s stock price—conventional shareholder primacy thinking is counterproductive. The Essay reviews five of these lines of theory and explores why each gives us reason to believe that shareholder primacy rules in public companies in fact disadvantage shareholders. It concludes that shareholder primacy thinking in its conventional form is on the brink of intellectual collapse, and will be replaced by more sophisticated and nuanced theories of corporate structure and purpose.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by De Gruyter in its journal Accounting, Economics, and Law.
Volume (Year): 2 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.degruyter.com
You can help add them by filling out this form.
reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Peter Golla).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.