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Shareholder value and the corporation: a debate

Should maximising shareholder value be the central goal for the corporation?

  • Is the problem institutional design? Current structures can accommodate absentee shareholders. Does that foster and facilitate irresponsibility?
  • Should real shareholder value be measured in terms of social and economic value?
  • Do organisations get the investors they deserve?
  • What is in the interest of the short term shareholder is not the interest of the long term shareholder, and corporations trying to serve both will struggle.
  • Is the current model of the corporation an accurate representation?
  • How does the globalisation of the stakeholder profile affect this argument, specifically considering the emerging markets?

After the 2012 'shareholder spring', Cass Professor Andre Spicer wanted to examine the wider implications of the mobilisation of the investor.

Spicer invited five of the leading voices on the subject to participate in a debate 'Shareholder value and the corporation,' at Cass Business School.

Colin Mayer is the former Dean of Said Business School, University of Oxford. His latest book argues that corporations need to drop their exclusive focus on maximizing shareholder value and explore alternative structures which put a long term view at the front and centre.

Paddy Ireland is a Professor at the Kent Law School. His work traces the legal evolution of the corporate form. He argued that we need a radical change in how corporations are configured to put an end to the focus on shareholder value.

Cass Professor Igor Filatotchev has extensively researched the ownership of corporations. His work shows that the question of who controls the corporation and who it should serve is far from clear.

Daniel Summerfield, Head of Responsible Investment at USS pensions, argued shareholder value is important, but it that is not the only game in town.

Arad Reisberg is the Head of Centre for Commercial Law at University College London. He suggested that today more than ever, shareholder remains the overriding goal of the corporation.

Joris Luyendijk the Guardian's Banking Blogger moderated the debate and kept the speakers on a tight rein.

View the debate.

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