Common Ownership and the Corporate Governance Channel for Employer Power in Labor Markets

36 Pages Posted: 7 Jan 2021

See all articles by Marshall Steinbaum

Marshall Steinbaum

University of Utah Department of Economics

Date Written: October 31, 2020


This article combines two relatively new subjects of antitrust scholarly interest: labor market power, and corporate governance. In so doing, it speaks to a number of recent debates that have grown up both inside the scholarly antitrust literature and adjacent to it. First, the paper interprets the shift in the balance of power within corporations favoring shareholders at the expense of workers, both in economic-theoretical and historical terms. Second, it lays out the role of shareholders and the common ownership channel as a vector for anti-competitive conduct arising between firms, not just within firms, thanks to profit-maximization at the portfolio level rather than the firm level. Third, it evaluates the claim that employer market power has increased, relative to other current explanations for labor market trends. Fourth, it ties rising employer power in labor markets to the increasing significance of common ownership. And finally, it contends that antitrust is a suitable policy remedy to the dual problems of anti-competitive common ownership and increased employer power, provided it abandons the consumer welfare standard and instead elevates worker welfare to an equivalent juridical status.

Keywords: Antitrust, Labor Market, Monopsony, Common Ownership, Horizontal Shareholding, Clayton Act, Ridesharing, Gig Economy

Suggested Citation

Steinbaum, Marshall, Common Ownership and the Corporate Governance Channel for Employer Power in Labor Markets (October 31, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Marshall Steinbaum (Contact Author)

University of Utah Department of Economics ( email )

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Salt Lake City, UT 84112
United States

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