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Reconsidering the rise of ‘shareholder value’ in the United States, 1960-2000


  • Taylor, Blake Edward


This study analyses thousands of corporate annual reports and financial data from 1960-2000 to propose an early history of the term ‘shareholder value’ in the United States. Scholarly interest in ‘shareholder value’ has burgeoned since 2000, but still little is known about the term’s origins. My findings suggest that corporate managers’ intentional and repeated use of the term did not begin until the early 1980s and was not widespread until the 1990s. Further, my analysis of General Electric Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, and The Coca-Cola Company suggests that adopting ‘shareholder value’ rhetoric likely had little impact on the performance of these case study firms.

Suggested Citation

  • Taylor, Blake Edward, 2015. "Reconsidering the rise of ‘shareholder value’ in the United States, 1960-2000," Economic History Working Papers 60967, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:60967

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    More about this item


    corporate governance; shareholder; corporations; firm behaviour; corporate payout; corporate control; firm objectives; management;

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • G30 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - General
    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance
    • G35 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Payout Policy
    • L21 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Business Objectives of the Firm
    • N82 - Economic History - - Micro-Business History - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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