Ownership, Agency and Trusteeship

24 Pages Posted: 21 Jan 2020

See all articles by Colin Mayer

Colin Mayer

University of Oxford - Said Business School; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Date Written: December 11, 2019


This article argues that the two dominant concepts of theory of the firm and the bases of modern management education, business practice, and public policy towards the firm, namely shareholder primacy and agency theory, are at best incomplete and at worst erroneous. They omit what was a substantial basis of discourse on the company in the first half of the 19th century, namely the notion of trusteeship. The article argues that reintroducing trusteeship addresses many of the current debates around capitalism, explains the bewildering patterns of ownership observed around the world, accounts for the recent failures of capitalism, and is a potential source of enhancing firm performance in the future.

Keywords: company law, ownership, agency, trusteeship, purpose, performance

JEL Classification: K11, K22

Suggested Citation

Mayer, Colin, Ownership, Agency and Trusteeship (December 11, 2019). European Corporate Governance Institute - Law Working Paper No. 488/2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3522269 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3522269

Colin Mayer (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Said Business School ( email )

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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
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1000 Brussels

HOME PAGE: http://www.ecgi.org

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