The Financialization of the Firm

The Financialization of the Firm

Managerial and Social Implications

Alexander Styhre

The term ‘financialization’ denotes the general tendency in the advanced Western economies to allow a substantial proportion of taxable profits to accumulate in the finance industry. Alexander Styhre discusses the financialization of the firm in the period after 1980 and stresses how key managerial activities have been redefined on the basis of finance theory and free-market ideologies. This book critically examines the literature and the implications of financialization for organizations and the economy as a whole.

Chapter 7: Concluding remarks: the financialized firm and its implication

Alexander Styhre

Subjects: business and management, corporate governance, organisation studies, social policy and sociology, sociology and sociological theory


Economic ideas provide agents with an interpretative framework, which describes and accounts for the workings of the economy by defining its constitutive elements and ‘proper’ (and therefore ‘improper’) interrelations. Economic ideas provide agents with both scientific and a normative account of the existing economy and polity, and a vision that specifies how these elements should be constructed. That is, economic ideas also act as blueprints of new institutions. In sum, ideas allow agents to reduce uncertainty, propose a particular solution to a moment of crisis, and empower agents to resolve that crisis by constructing new institutions in line with these new ideas. Mark Blyth (2002: 11). When the communist economies in Eastern and central Europe collapsed at the end of the 1980s, after a long process of gradual decline of the planned economic regime of accumulation, Western Center–Right intellectuals were ready to boldly announce that market liberalism has once and for all defeated not only communism and socialism in the Marxist-Leninist tradition, but all other conceivable economic systems. Market liberalism and its institutions (at times referred to with the term the Washington consensus) was now, at the end of history, treated as the only credible, vital politico-economic system. Whether such prophecies will be fulfilled remain to be seen, but there is precious little that indicates a robustness of the present politico-economic system given the decline in economic growth, increased economic inequality, and the high levels of debt produced in the incumbent system.

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