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Democracy and the Evolution of Corporate Governance


  • Pierre-Yves Gomez
  • Harry Korine

    (Strategic and International Management at the London Business School and French Corporate Governance Institute.)


Under what conditions do stakeholders consent to a regime of corporate governance? We propose that consent by the governed in corporate governance cannot be satisfactorily explained without reference to the collective value of procedural fairness that underlies markets. Drawing on the social psychology of justice and the political economy of social choice, we highlight the critical role played by democratic procedures in achieving consent by the governed in modern society. This line of reasoning leads us to suggest that the evolution of corporate governance, too, can be understood in terms of Tocqueville's well-known hypothesis that democracy eventually prevails in all spheres of organised activity. Examining the historical record of institutional reform in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United  States,  we  find  that  corporate  governance  has  indeed  evolved  to  make  increasing  use of democratic procedures. Viewed over the long-term of two centuries of capitalist development, corporate governance is seen to have successively incorporated enfranchisement, separation of powers and representation. In conclusion, we consider the implications of basing the study of corporate governance on the question of stakeholder consent and the practice of corporate governance on the procedures of democracy. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2005.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre-Yves Gomez & Harry Korine, 2005. "Democracy and the Evolution of Corporate Governance," Corporate Governance: An International Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(6), pages 739-752, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:corgov:v:13:y:2005:i:6:p:739-752

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael C. Jensen, 2010. "Value Maximization, Stakeholder Theory, and the Corporate Objective Function," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 22(1), pages 32-42.
    2. Charkham, Jonathan & Simpson, Anne, 1999. "Fair Shares: The Future of Shareholder Power and Responsibility," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198292142.
    3. Veblen, Thorstein, 1921. "The Engineers and the Price System," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number veblen1921.
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    1. repec:dau:papers:123456789/13577 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Anselm Schneider & Andreas Scherer, 2015. "Corporate Governance in a Risk Society," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 126(2), pages 309-323, January.
    3. Andreas Georg Scherer & Andreas Rasche & Guido Palazzo & André Spicer, 2016. "Managing for Political Corporate Social Responsibility: New Challenges and Directions for PCSR 2.0," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(3), pages 273-298, May.
    4. Jesús Mauricio Flórez Parra, 2016. "El gobierno corporativo en el ámbito del sector público: un estudio bibliométrico en las revistas ubicadas en el área de Administración Pública," REVISTA FACULTAD DE CIENCIAS ECONÓMICAS, UNIVERSIDAD MILITAR NUEVA GRANADA, vol. 25(1), pages 161-175, December.
    5. David Collison & Stuart Cross & John Ferguson & David Power & Lorna Stevenson, 2012. "Legal Determinants of External Finance Revisited: The Inverse Relationship Between Investor Protection and Societal Well-Being," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 108(3), pages 393-410, July.
    6. Naiwei Chen & Tsai-Chen Yang, 2017. "Democracy, rule of law, and corporate governance—a liquidity perspective," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 35-70, February.

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