Shareholder Primacy and Corporate Financialization
In the neoliberal era the shareholder value maximization principle has become the dominant corporate governance practice that has gained legitimacy through management education and consultancy recipes. This chapter discusses the literature on corporate financialization in the 1990s and early 2000s where critical social science literature from political economy to economic sociology, from French Regulation School to the UK critical management studies have problematized the historical logic and sustainability of shareholder value primacy in the evolution of capitalism. It aims to survey the literature on corporate financialization that documents its failure in delivering its socio-economic promises and critically engage with the underlining causes of its survival and expansion into non-market, non-profit organizations like universities and mutually owned banks. Corporate financialization has survived the dot.com crisis and the Enron corporate scandal just as it did the leveraged buyout crash in 1989. The defining characteristic of financialized corporate behavior, competing in stock market in share price, has survived even the 2007 crisis.