Who is in charge? A property rights perspective on stakeholder governance

Sage Publications
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Strategic Organization, 2012, 10 (3), pp. 304 - 315
Issue Date:
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The fields of strategy and organization are dominated by the stylized idea that the purpose of the firm is to maximize returns on investment for equity shareholders. This idea is based on simplifying assumptions about externalities, contractual ties, investments, and the nature of competition. As a result, the dominant conceptualization of the firm’s purpose as shareholder value maximization may lead to serious misunderstandings regarding the firm’s contractual obligations. Furthermore, the idea of shareholder value maximization may lead to problematic and inaccurate representations of organization, innovation, and other aspects of value creation and capture. Creating and capturing value in the presence of spillovers, relationship-specific investments, and complex contractual ties is difficult in ways that are obscured by a relentless focus on shareholder value. In this essay, we develop these claims and point to the consequences for the canonical business school curriculum, which does not deal sufficiently with the challenges of value creation and capture under more realistic assumptions.
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