Is Berle and Means Really a Myth?
Brian R. Cheffins
University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)
Steven A. Bank
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law
March 3, 2009
UCLA School of Law, Law-Econ Research Paper No. 09-05
ECGI - Law Working Paper No. 121/2009
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.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 58
Keywords: Berle-Means, ownership, control of U.S. public companies
Date posted: March 10, 2009 ; Last revised: October 19, 2010