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Strong Managers, Weak Owners [Kindle Edition]

Mark J. Roe
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

In this major reinterpretation of the evolution of the American corporation, Mark Roe convincingly demonstrates that the ownership structure of large U.S. firms owes its distinctive character as much to politics as to economics and technology. His provocative examination addresses essential issues facing American businesses today as they compete in the new international marketplace.

Editorial Reviews


"Economic theory appeared to predict that the American version [of capitalism, in which firms feed on a huge and liquid stockmarket] should be the most efficient. This view stemmed from [Berle and Means] in The Modern Corporation and Private Property ... [and] held sway for the next fifty years.... Roe ... takes this debate a giant step forward. Far from being the inevitable winner of a Darwinian struggle, argues Roe, the Berle-Means corporation owes its existence to American politics, and in particular to a deeply ingrained popular mistrust of concentrated financial power."--The Economist

"Roe ... argues persuasively that old-fashioned politics ... play[s] the key role in building a structure of corporate finance.... Strong Managers, Weak Owners does for corporate governance what Alfred Chandler's The Visible Hand did for the corporation: makes history essential to understanding current practice and policy."--Robert Teitelman, Institutional Investor

From the Back Cover

"No one before has ever written a comprehensive poltical history of the fragmentation of stock ownership nor demonstrated the critical role that this fragmentation has played in shaping the power of managers in the American business system. Roe has provided a powerful and original explanation of the emergence and persistence of managerial autonomy in the United States."--David Vogel, University of California, Berkeley

"A seminal work that should become [a] mainstay for years to come."--Peter H. Aranson, Emory University

Product Details

  • File Size: 3305 KB
  • Print Length: 342 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (March 24, 1996)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004AHM0HK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,461,830 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A provocative look at US corporate governance. June 1, 2000
In their 1932 classic, THE MODERN CORPORATION AND PRIVATE PROPERTY, Berle and Means brought to popular attention the separation of ownership and control in U.S. corporations: shareholders exercised virtually no control over either day to day operations or long-term policy; instead, control was vested in the hands of professional managers. Separation of ownership and control occurred, according to Berle and Means, because important technological changes during the 1800s, especially the development of modern mass production techniques, gave great advantages to firms large enough to achieve economics of scale, which in turn gave rise to giant industrial corporations. These firms could be financed only by aggregating many small investments. Modern corporate governance scholars refer to the consequences of separating ownership and control as agency costs, but Berle and Means had identified the basic problem over forty years before the current terminology was invented: "The separation of ownership from control produces a condition where the interests of owner and of ultimate manager may, and often do, diverge ...."
In STRONG MANAGERS, WEAK OWNERS, Mark Roe strikes out in a new direction, by attacking the origins of the agency cost problem. The question Roe poses is the foundational one of whether Berle and Means were correct in assuming that the separation of ownership and control is an inherent aspect of large public corporations. Roe contends that dispersed ownership was not the inevitable consequence of impersonal economic forces, but rather the result of a series of political decisions motivated by a fear of concentrated economic power.
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