Rethinking Corporate Governance

Rethinking Corporate Governance

The Forming of Operative and Financial Strategies in Global Corporations

Sven-Erik Sjöstrand

Rethinking Corporate Governance’s extensive and insightful empirical investigation offers a radically new approach to corporate governance. This ground-breaking volume describes and analyses the key nature-based and actor-based forces that ultimately determine corporate governance processes and long-term corporate paths. Generally, such forces work in complex and intricate interplays that to a large extent vary among corporations. The author argues that actions taken by individuals have a special status among those forces, as they not only generate impact in themselves, but also involve interpretations of the possible effects of all the other forces. Among those actions, the ones taken by the shareholders stand out as particularly decisive both for the governance processes as such and for how corporations develop over time.

Chapter 16: The impact of individual actors on corporate paths

Sven-Erik Sjöstrand

Subjects: business and management, corporate governance, international business, strategic management, economics and finance, corporate governance


Two principal research questions were presented in Chapter 1, a more general one and a more specific one. The more general question asks which are the main forces that determine the long-term development paths for large global corporations and how – and under what circumstances – do these forces operate? The specific question focuses on one of those forces – ‘actorhood’ – and in particular how the owners of the corporations act in those development processes. Six dimensions of ownership are given priority in the analysis (cf. Ch. 2), namely its category (e.g. private or state), form (e.g. foundation or limited corporation), structure (e.g. concentrated or dispersed), status (e.g. sphere dependent or autonomous), organization (e.g. exerted inside or outside the board) and enactment rationales (e.g. risk-seeking or risk averse). The first, more general question was discussed in Chapter 15 and will be addressed in this chapter as well. However, the second, more specific question could not be examined in depth in the former chapter, as only secondary data is available for the time period covered, that is to say, before WWII (cf. the Appendix). In this chapter, the extensive primary data that underpinned the four ‘master cases’ described in Chapters 6 to 14, along with secondary data, provides the basis for a more extensive focus on the behaviour and rationales of (particularly) the owners.

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