Year of publication
- 2005 (2) (remove)
- Shareholder voice and its opponents (2005)
- This paper has shown that some of the principal arguments against shareholder voice are unfounded. It has shown that shareholders do own corporations, and that the nature of their property interest is structured to meet the needs of the relationships found in stock corporations. The paper has explained that fiduciary and other duties restrain the actions of shareholders just as they do those of management, and that critics cannot reasonably expect court-imposed fiduciary duties to extend beyond the actual powers of shareholders. It has also illustrated how, although corporate statutes give shareholders complete power to structure governance as they will, the default governance structures of U.S. corporations leaves shareholders almost powerless to initiate any sort of action, and the interaction between state and federal law makes it almost impossible for shareholders to elect directors of their choice. Lastly, the paper has recalled how the percentage of U.S. corporate equities owned by institutional investors has increased dramatically in recent decades, and it has outlined some of the major developments in shareholder rights that followed this increase. I hope that this paper deflated some of the strong rhetoric used against shareholder voice by contrasting rhetoric to law, and that it illustrated why the picture of weak owners painted in the early 20th century should be updated to new circumstances, which will help avoid projecting an old description as a current normative model that perpetuates the inevitability of "managerialsm", perhaps better known as "dirigisme".