Does Company Ownership Matter?

Does Company Ownership Matter?

The Cournot Centre series

Edited by Jean-Philippe Touffut

Do modes of management depend on company ownership? Does macroeconomic performance rely on shareholder value? The contributions collected in this book explore these questions from economic, historical and legal perspectives. They examine company ownership through the study of national institutions, with particular focus on North America and Europe. The twelve economic and legal specialists of this volume seek to explain why firms organized along the shareholder model have not outperformed other forms of ownership. Answers lie in the historical and institutional background of each country.

Introduction

Jean-Philippe Touffut

Subjects: business and management, corporate governance, economics and finance, corporate governance, industrial organisation

Extract

Jean-Philippe Touffut Do modes of management depend on company ownership? Does macroeconomic performance rely on shareholder value? The contributions collected in this book explore these question from economic, historical and legal perspectives. Property rights are considered by most economists to be as fundamental as the concepts of scarcity or rationality; however, the expression of property, as a social construct, differs so much from one legal structure to another that its utilitarian justification only has common meaning in political discourse. The nature of ownership is revealed in decision-making processes, which bring to light the interests that are protected by property. Les Lumières established the idea that all men enjoy the same right to ownership – whether inherited or acquired – whereas social distinction is merited rather than inherited. It does not matter if systems of inheritance lead to wide variations in the substance of goods owned by different individuals within society: the right to ownership provides an indisputable foundation to the inequality of distribution. In itself ownership cannot concern one isolated individual. It involves at least two persons: the one who owns and the one who does not. From the perspective of classic civil law – as opposed to common law used notably by the UK and the USA – property rights are characterized by the right to use the property, to appropriate the returns from it and to dispose of it. It is an absolute right, in the sense that it is enforceable against everyone and bounded solely by the principle of the...