Is Berle and Means Really a Myth?

Is Berle and Means Really a Myth?

Brian Cheffins, Steven Bank

Series number :

Serial Number: 
121/2009

Date posted :

March 01 2009

Last revised :

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Keywords

  • Berle-Means • 
  • ownership • 
  • control of U.S. public companies

Berle and Means famously declared in 1932 that a separation of ownership and control was a hallmark of large U.S. corporations and their characterization of matters quickly became received wisdom. A series of recent papers (Hannah, 2007; Santos and Rumble, 2006, Holderness, forthcoming) has called the Berle-Means orthodoxy into question.

This paper surveys the relevant historical literature on point, acknowledging in so doing that the pattern of ownership and control in U.S. public companies has been anything but monolithic but saying a separation between ownership and control remains an appropriate reference point for analysis of U.S. corporate governance.

Authors

Real name: 
Steven Bank