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    Shareholder value or public purpose? from John Maynard Keynes and Adolf Berle to the modern debate

    Konzelmann, Suzanne J. and Chick, V. and Fovargue-Davies, M. (2021) Shareholder value or public purpose? from John Maynard Keynes and Adolf Berle to the modern debate. In: Lounsbury, M. (ed.) The Corporation: Rethinking the Iconic Form of Business Organization. Research in the Sociology of Organizations 78. Emerald, pp. 143-164. ISBN 9781800433779.

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    The debate about corporate purpose is a recurring one that has re-emerged today. What should be the guiding principles of business: the pursuit of profit or a contribution to public interest? We trace key elements in this debate in Britain and America, from the interwar years, when John Maynard Keynes and Adolf Berle made important contributions, to the 1970s, when events ushered in a return to laissez-faire and the rise to dominance of the shareholder primacy model of corporate governance and purpose, to today. Both the earlier and the current debates are centered around whether we see business institutions as strictly private entities, transacting with their suppliers, workers, and customers on terms agreed with or imposed upon these groups, or as part of society at large and therefore expected to contribute to what society deems to be its interests. Whether current developments will ultimately produce a shift in corporate purpose akin to the one that followed the Second World War remains to be seen. But the parallels to the interwar debates, and the uncertain economic, political and social environment in which they took place, are striking. Our objective is to see what might be learned from the past to inform the current direction of thought concerning capitalism and corporate purpose.


    Item Type: Book Section
    Additional Information: Book DOI: 10.1108/S0733-558X202278
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): corporate purpose; shareholder primacy; John Maynard Keynes; Adolf Berle, Britain’s Industrial Future; The Modern Corporation
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Business and Law > Birkbeck Business School
    Depositing User: Sue Konzelmann
    Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2022 16:40
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:11


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