A Critique of Shareholder Value
The Cournot Centre series
The book that the reader is about to discover is the fruit of several years’ preoccupation. Its origin goes back to a project of collective research launched in 1999, on behalf of the Commissariat Général du Plan. One of the authors coordinated this research; the other gave it major impetus. Four research centres participated in the project: the FORUM in Nanterre, the IDEFI in Nice, the INSEAD in Fontainebleau and the CPDR of the Catholic University of Louvain. This research culminated in a report published in September 2001 and entitled: Régimes de gouvernements d’entreprise: diﬀérences nationales et stratégies d’entreprise (‘Corporate Governance Regimes: National Diﬀerences and Corporate Strategies’). From this period on, we became mistrustful of the dominant ideology – a skilful mixture of legal and economic theory – championed by AngloAmerican consulting ﬁrms, the larger investment banks and certain academic circles. In the euphoric atmosphere of large-scale stock market speculation and the golden age that the ‘new economy’ was expected to bring, the shareholder was king. Creation of shareholder value established itself as the pillar of a new form of governance, guaranteeing uninterrupted prosperity for the economy as a whole, including workers. There was no doubt, according to the enthusiastic promoters of this doctrine, that the whole world would convert to it. Globalization of the economy, by exerting its inﬂuence on the ﬁrm itself, would penetrate deeper strata than the level of the capital markets alone. In the report cited above, we expressed doubts about...