Political Determinants of Corporate Governance: Political Context, Corporate Impact

Paperback | July 20, 2006

byMark J. Roe

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Before a nation can produce, it must achieve social peace. That social peace has been reached in different nations by differing means, some of which have then been embedded in business firms, in corporate ownership patterns, and in corporate governance structures. The large publicly held, diffusely owned firm dominates business in the United States despite its infirmities, namely the frequently fragile relations between stockholders and managers. But in other economically advanced nations, ownership is not diffuse but concentrated. It is concentrated in nosmall measure because the delicate threads that tie managers to shareholders in the public firm fray easily in common political environments, such as those in the continental European social democracies. Social democracies press managers to stabilize employment, to forego some profit-maximizing risks with the firm, and to use up capital in place rather than to downsize when markets no longer are aligned with the firm's production capabilities. Since managers must have discretion in the public firm,how they use that discretion is crucial to stockholders, and social democratic pressures induce managers to stray farther than otherwise from their shareholders' profit-maximizing goals. Moreover, the means that align managers with diffuse stockholders in the United States-incentive compensation,hostile takeovers, and strong shareholder-wealth maximization norms-are weaker and sometimes denigrated in continental social democracies.Hence, public firms there have higher managerial agency costs, and large-block shareholding has persisted as shareholders' best remaining way to control those costs. Social democracies may enhance total social welfare, but if they do, they do so with fewer public firms than less socially responsive nations. The author therefore uncovers not only a political explanation for ownership concentration in Europe, but also a crucial political prerequisite to the riseof the public firm in the United States, namely the weakness of social democratic pressures on the American business firm.

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Before a nation can produce, it must achieve social peace. That social peace has been reached in different nations by differing means, some of which have then been embedded in business firms, in corporate ownership patterns, and in corporate governance structures. The large publicly held, diffusely owned firm dominates business in the ...

Mark J. Roe is Berg Professor Law at the Harvard Law School. He has previously held positions at Columbia University School of Law; University of Pennsylvania School of Law; and Rutgers University School of Law. His publications include Corporate Reorganization and Bankruptcy: Legal and Financial Materials (Foundation Press, 2000) and...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.59 inPublished:July 20, 2006Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199205302

ISBN - 13:9780199205301

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Table of Contents

IntroductionPart I: Political Conflict and the Corporation1. Peace as Predicate2. The Wealthy West's Differing Corporate Governance Structures3. A General TheoryPart II: Social Conflict and the Institutions of Corporate Governance4. Social Democracies and Agency Costs: Raising the Stakes5. Reducing Shareholders' Power to Control ManagersPart III: Left-Right Politics and Ownership Separation: Data6. Data and ConfirmationPart IV: Nation by Nation7. France8. Germany9. Italy10. Japan11. Sweden12. United Kingdom13. United States14. Extending the Sample?Part V: The Direction of Causality15. Alternative Formulations of the Thesis16. Backlash17. Contract as Metaphor18. Rents19. Rents and Politics20. Rents and Ownership Concentration21. Political Change in Continental Europe22. Alternative Formulations: DataPart VI: The Quality of Corporate Law Argument and its Limits23. Corporate Law as the Foundation for Securities Markets: The Theory24. Its Limits: Theory25. Its Limits: Data26. The Quality of Corporate Law and its LimitsPart VII: Unifying the Political Theories27. Populism and Socialism in Corporate GovernanceConclusion

Editorial Reviews

`I definitely recommend this book to all scholars of corporate governance and anybody else interested in the origins of corporate governance systems ... a joy to read ... Roe's book is a welcome and stimulating addition to the field.'Marc Goergen (Manchester School of Management and European Corporate Governance Institute), Corporate Governance: An International Review