Statement on Management


The rise of modern corporations has been accompanied by an expansion of salaried executives who have replaced owner-managers. With this expansion, the new class of managers/executives came to regard themselves as stewards of large and complex corporations, and not principally or exclusively as agents for the owners. Emerging as a self- styled `profession’, there was a continuous debate around the necessity for the corporation to be responsible to the collective and to its stakeholders. During long parts of the twentieth century the professed intent was to balance and synthesize a plurality of interests in order to ensure the long term survival and success of the corporation, pursue national strategic interests, create employment, support networks of suppliers, develop new technology as well as create an adequate or satisfactory return for shareholders (Marens, 2012; O’Sullivan, 2001).

The rise of agency theory in the late 1970s and early 1980s challenged this understanding of management. Arguing that markets rather than managers provide an efficient allocation of scarce resources, it pushed an agenda in which the corporation had to pursue one single goal – the maximization of shareholder value (MSV) and that managers should be incentivised to respond to (financial) market forces. This idea gradually gained traction through teaching in US economics departments and business schools and has today become a highly influential doctrine which infuses senior executive thinking, investors thinking, corporate governance theory and public policy and regulatory decision making (Khurana, 2007; Harvey, 2009).

Impacts of MSV

1. Shareholders without commitment. The distancing of shareholders from the long- term prospects of the firm is enhanced through limited liability, the liquidity of their investment, and, more recently, high velocity trading. This means that the commitment of shareholders is no longer to firms, but to short-term profits only (Davis, 2009; Muzrichi, 2010; Mayer, 2013).

2. Senior management without commitment. The rise of MSV means CEOs find themselves in increasingly precarious positions with shorter tenure. As a result, senior executives rapidly move between firms which means that they have a shorter term decision making horizon, and rarely stay in a position long enough to deal with the problems that their initiatives aimed at increasing shareholder value creates (Useem, 1993, 1996; Dobbin and Zorn, 2005).

3. Poor quality management. The focus on MSV has led many companies to adopt generic management practices. The most obvious example of this is firms chasing so- called celebrity CEOs who tend to be highly paid but tend to fail in their assignments. Research suggests that firms tend to be more successful when they rely on firm or industry specific management rather than generic management practices (Khurana, 2004; Ghoshal, 2005).

4. Race to the bottom in employment conditions. Firms with a strong focus on maximizing shareholder value tend to concentrate upon squeezing costs to produce immediate returns, and so reduce the quality of employment (e.g. wages, pensions provision, and job security) when it is not outsourced, offshored, etc. This has a tendency to encourage regulatory dumping as different countries tend to create the conditions that will allow particular corporations to do this (Davis, 2009).

5. Increasing inequality within the firm. The focus on MSV has led to a rapid divergence between the rewards received by those at the top and those at the middle and the bottom of firms. As a result, the rewards from productivity gains during the past two decades have gone to top management and shareholders rather than to employees in the form of wages and benefits. This is reflected at the macro (societal) level with well documented increases in within-country inequalities in almost all Western countries over the past thirty years or so leading to a return towards increasingly rigidified class structures allowing for less and less mobility in many of those countries (McFall and Percheski, 2010).

6. Declining innovation. The focus on maximizing shareholder value has led many firms neglecting investing in areas like research and development in favour of ploughing money into measures which create immediate increases in shareholder value (such as paying dividends and share buy backs). The result is that future performance which comes from spending on innovation is effectively undermined (Lazonick and O’Sullivan, 2000).

7. Restructuring efforts. An emphasis on narrow financial performance encourages the use of corporate restructuring efforts, such as mergers, acquisitions, buyouts and demergers in order to impress financial markets (Krippner, 2010). The vast majority of organizational change efforts are motivated by the imperative to ‘create value’ for shareholders and fail to deliver long term productive capability. Such restructuring efforts tend to divert attention from the core business without receiving the benefits and result in lay offs and plant closures which have devastating effects on relations with stakeholders and thus destroy shareholder value in the longer term (Davis, 2009).

8. Increased systemic risks. The combination of MSV with limited liability leads to systemic moral hazard. the shareholders of corporations benefit from the short term value created by inconsiderate risk taking while being shielded from the medium/long term losses for the corporation and for society that may come from this kind of inconsiderate risk taking: “privatization of profits and socialization of costs” (Djelic, 2013). Some examples include banks which create toxic financial products in order to maximize returns to shareholders in the short term, but created huge problems for the wider financial system in the longer term. The cost of the failure has been born by other groups in society, particularly ordinary savers and public service and benefit recipients (Crouch, 2011).

Rethinking Management Practices

Backed by questionable notions of law and economics which have become embedded in corporate governance and accounting regulations, many managers now act on the basis of a folk wisdom that shareholders are the only important constituency, which leads them to deliver short-term strategic decisions, high executive remuneration, and offshoring strategies with regard to manufacturing and finance. This comes at the detriment of broader and longer- term perspectives on the purpose of the firm in modern societies and has created worse management and less competitive companies. It is ironic that the obsession with MSV has actually destroyed long-term shareholder value and that it has significantly decreased the average life span of corporations during the past 30 years (Davis, 2009).

The time has come to rethink the over-riding commitment to MSV. This involves revitalising a model in which companies are understood to have multiple and often competing goals – with producing returns to shareholders as only one of them.


Crouch, C. 2011, The Strange Non-Death of Neo-Liberalism, Polity, Cambridge, UK.

Davis, G.F. 2009, Managed by the Markets: How Finance Re-Shaped America, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Djelic, M. & Bothello, J. 2013, “Limited liability and its moral hazard implications: the systemic inscription of instability in contemporary capitalism”, Theory and society, vol. 42, no. 6, pp. 589-615.

Dobbin, F. & Zorn, D. 2005, “Corporate malfeasance and the myth of shareholder value”, Political power and social theory, vol. 17, pp. 179-198.

Ghoshal, S. 2005, “Bad Management Theories are Destroying Good Management Practices”, Academy of Management Learning and Education, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 75-91.

Harvey, D. 2009, A brief history of neoliberalism, Oxford University Press, USA, New York.

Khurana, R. 2007, From higher aims to hired hands: the social transformation of American business schools and the unfulfilled promise of management as a profession, Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Khurana, R. 2004, Searching for a corporate savior: The irrational quest for charismatic CEOs, Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Krippner, G.R. 2012, Capitalizing on crisis: The political origins of the rise of finance, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

Lazonick, W. & O’Sullivan, M. 2000, “Maximizing shareholder value: a new ideology for corporate governance”, Economy and Society, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 13-35.

Marens, R. 2012, “Generous in victory? American managerial autonomy, labour relations and the invention of Corporate Social Responsibility”, Socio-Economic Review, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 59-84.

Mayer, C. 2013, Firm Commitment: Why the corporation is failing us and how to restore trust in it , Oxford University Press, Oxford.

McCall, L. & Percheski, C. 2010, “Income inequality: New trends and research directions”, Annual Review of Sociology, vol. 36, pp. 329-347.

Mizruchi, M.S. 2010, “The American corporate elite and the historical roots of the financial crisis of 2008”, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, vol. 30, pp. 103-139.

Useem, M. 1996, Investor capitalism: How money managers are changing the face of corporate America, Basic Books, New York.

Useem, M. 1993, Executive defense: Shareholder power and corporate reorganization, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.


Hugh Willmott, Professor of Management, Cass Business School, City University London and Research Professor in Organization Studies, Cardiff Business School

Marie-Laure Djelic, Professor, ESSEC Business School

Andre Spicer, Professor of Organisational Behaviour, CASS Business School

Martin Parker, Professor of Organisation and Culture, University of Leicester

Charles Perrow, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Yale University

Derek S. Pugh AcSS, Emeritus Professor of International Management, Open University Business School

John-Christopher Spender, Visiting Professor ESADE, Visiting Professor Lund University School of Economics & Management

Jean-Pascal Gond, Professor of Corporate Social Responsibility, Cass Business School, City University London

René ten Bos, Professor, Department of Management Sciences, Nijmegen School of Management

Armin Beverungen, Junior Director at the Digital Cultures Research Lab, Leuphana University Lüneburg

Marta B. Calás, Professor of Organization Studies and International Management, Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts – Amherst

Grahame F. Thompson, Professor, Department of Business and Politics, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark.

Glenn Morgan, Professor, Cardiff business School

Stewart Clegg, Professor and Research Director Centre for Management and Organization Studies, University of Technology Sydney (UTS)

Brendan McSweeney, Professor of Management, Royal Holloway, University of London

Pasi Ahonen, Lecturer in Organisation Studies, Swansea University school of Management

Professor Philip Hancock, Essex Business School, University of Essex

Barbara Czarniawska, Professor of Management Studies, Gothenburg Research Institute, University of Gothenburg

Howard Gospel, Professor, Department of Management, King’s College, University of London, and Associate Fellow, Said Business School, University of Oxford

Tyrone S Pitsis, Reader in Strategic Design, Newcastle University

Scott Taylor, Reader in Leadership & Organization Studies, Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham

Christopher Land, Reader in Work and Organization, Essex Business School

Stevphen Shukaitis, Lecturer in Work & Organization, Essex Business School, University of Essex

Ace Simpson, Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour, UTS Business School, Sydney

Tom Keenoy, Emeritus Professor, Cardiff Business School

Sheena Vachhani, Lecturer, University of Bristol

Laurent Taskin, Professor of Organization and human resource studies, Louvain School of Management, Belgium

George Cheney, Professor of Communication Studies, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio

Nicolas Bencherki, Assistant Professor of Organizational Communication, State University of New York

Véronique Perret, Professor of Strategic Management, Dauphine University, Paris

Florence Allard-Poesi, Professor of Management, IRG, University of Paris-East Créteil, France

Florence Palpacuer, Professor in Management Studies, University of Montpellier, France

Juan Espinosa, Lecturer, School of Commerce, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Chile

David Jacobs, Associate Professor of Labor and Sustainability, Graves School of Business and Management Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland

Jo Brewis, Professor of Organization and Consumption, University of Leicester School of Management

Daniel King, Senior Lecturer, Nottingham Trent University

Prem Sikka, Professor of Accounting, Essex Business School

Thomas Wainwright, Lecturer in Strategy & Innovation, Programme Director for Management with Entrepreneurship, Southampton Management School

Torkild Thanem, Professor of Management & Organization Studies, Stockholm University School of Business

Walter Jarvis, Lecturer in Management & Organisations, University of Technology, Sydney (UTS)

Casper Hoedemaekers, Lecturer in Work and Organisation, University of Essex

Jason Glynos, Political Theory Division, Department of Government, University of Essex

Ian Towers, Professor, SRH Hochschule Berlin

Samuel Mansell, Lecturer in Business Ethics, University of St Andrews

Laure Cabantous, Associate Professor, Cass Business School, City University London

Bill Cooke, Professor of Management and Society, Department of Organization, Work and Technology, Lancaster University Management School; Vice Chair Research and Publications, British Academy of Management

Richard Marens, Professor, Sacramento State University

Iain Munro, Professor of Leadership & Organizational Change, Newcastle University Business School

Oleg Komlik, Lecturer, Ben-Gurion University

Ken Weir, Lecturer, University of Leicester

Simon Lilley, Professor and Head of the School of Management, University of Leicester

Ludovic Cailluet, Professor of strategic management and business history, University of the Littoral and CNRS (University of Toulouse, CRM)

Nihel Chabrak, Associate Professor, College of Business, United Arab Emirates University

Tony Huzzard, Professor, Department of Business Administration, Lund University School of Economics and Management

Ozan Nadir Alakavuklar (PhD), Lecturer, Massey University School of Management

Chris Mowles, Professor of Complexity and Management, Hertfordshire Business School

Jonathan Murphy, Senior Lecturer, International Management, Cardiff Business School

Joan Le Goff, Professor, Vallorem, Tours School of Management (IAE), Tours

Ruth Slater, Lecturer, Lancashire Business School, University of Central Lancashire

Maria-Carolina Cambre, Assistant Professor of Sociology, King’s University College, London ON Canada

Susana Velez-Castrillon, Assistant Professor of Management, University of West Georgia, GA United States

Djamel Eddine Laouisset, Professor, Alhosn University, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Stuart M Schmidt, Professor, Fox School of Business, Temple University

Ismail Ertürk, Senior Lecturer in Banking, Manchester Business School, The University of Manchester

Alan Meyer, Emeritus Professor of Management, University of Oregon

Timothy Kuhn, Associate Professor, University of Colorado Boulder

Isabelle Huault, Professor of Organization Studies, Université Paris Dauphine

Hovig Tchalian, Visiting Assistant Professor of Management and Executive Director, Institute for the Practice of Management, Claremont Graduate University, Drucker-Ito School of Management

Thomas Clarke, Professor of Management and Director of the Centre for Corporate Governance, UTS Sydney

Isabelle Cassiers, Professor, Senior research associate FNRS

Jean-Pierre Chanteau, maître de conférences HDR, université Grenoble-Alpes

Julien Malaurent, Assistant Professor of Information Systems, ESSEC Business School

David J. Cooper, Professor of Accounting, University of Alberta

Dermot O’Reilly, Lecturer, Lancaster University

Michael Pirson, Associate Professor, Fordham University

Nidhi Srinivas, Associate Professor, The New School

Duarte de Souza Rosa Filho, Adjunct Professor, Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo, Brazil

Alex Faria, Associate Professor, EBAPE/FGV

Robert F Coles, Doctoral Researcher, University of LeicesterRobert F Coles, Doctoral Researcher, University of Leicester

Raza Mir, Professor, William Paterson University, USA

Carolina Serrano Archimi, Associate Professor of OB, Aix-Marseille Graduate School of Management-IAE, Aix-Marseille Université

George Cairns, Professor, RMIT University

Kevin Tennent, Lecturer in Management, University of York

Daniel Doherty, Senior Lecturer, Leadership, Work and Organisation, Middlesex University Business School

Alessia Contu, Professor of Management, University of Massachusetts

Rick Wartzman, Executive Director, Drucker Institute, Claremont Graduate University

Pik Liew, Lecturer, University of Essex

Vlatka Hlupic, Professor, University of Westminster

Annick Ancelin-Bourguignon, Professor, ESSEC Business School

Joe O’Mahoney, Reader, University of Cardiff

Suhaib Riaz, Assistant Professor of Strategic Management, University of Massachusetts-Boston

Ismael Al-Amoudi, Senior Lecturer, University of Cardiff

Oscar Montiel, Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship, Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

Steve McKenna, Professor, York University, Toronto

Herman van den Bosch, Professor, Open Universiteit

Chris Rees, Professor of Employment Relations, Royal Holloway, University of London

Emma Bell, Professor of Management and Organisation Studies, Keele University

Olivia Kyriakidou, Assistant Professor, Athens University of Economics and Business

Abby Cathcart, Associate Professor, Queensland University of Technology, Australia

Rory Ridley-Duff, Reader in Co-operative and Social Enterprise, Sheffield Hallam University

Lorna Stevenson, Reader in Accounting, University of St Andrews

Metin Reyhanoglu, Assistant Professor, Mustafa Kemal University, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Department of Business

Andreas Kornelakis, Senior Lecturer in International Management, King’s College London

Simon Learmount, Professor, University of Cambridge

Meziane Lasfer, Professor of Finance, Cass Business School, City, University of London

Silke Machold, Professor of Corporate Governance, Wolverhampton Business School

Donncha Kavanagh, Professor of Information & Organisation, University College Dublin, Ireland

Alexandre Di Miceli da Silveira Professor of Business Ethics and Corporate Governance Alvares Penteado School of Business, Sao Paulo

Marcia Annisette, Professor of Accounting, York University Canada

Jeroen Veldman, Senior Research Fellow, Cass Business School, City University London

French translation

Cette proposition est la traduction française de « Modern corporation – Management statement ». Cette étude a été coordonnée par le Dr Jeroen Veldman, en charge du projet Modern Corporation Project, hébergé par la Cass Business School, City University of London – La version originale du manifeste est disponible à l’adresse : La version française a été initiée et rédigée par Laurent Taskin, Professeur à la Louvain School of Management, Université catholique de Louvain avec le concours de Marie-Laure Djelic, Professeur et Co-Dean School of Management and Innovation, Sciences Po Paris et de Blanche Segrestin, Professeur à Mines Paris Tech, PSL Research University.


LEntreprise moderne

Bilan et enjeux pour le management


L’essor des grandes entreprises modernes est allé de pair avec la montée en puissance d’une nouvelle génération de cadres dirirgants : les managers professionnels et salariés ont remplacé les propriétaires-dirigeants. Au début du 20ème siècle ces cadres se sont vus comme les responsables (stewards) de grandes organisations complexes et non pas seulement ou exclusivement comme les agents des actionnaires. Dès la naissance de ce management professionnel, la nécessité pour l’entreprise d’être responsable envers la collectivité et ses parties prenantes a été soulevée. Tout au long du vingtième siècle, l’intention affichée était d’équilibrer une pluralité d’intérêts et d’en faire une synthèse afin de garantir le succès et la survie à long terme de l’entreprise, de poursuivre des intérêts stratégiques à l’échelle nationale, de créer des emplois, de soutenir les réseaux de fournisseurs, de développer de nouvelles technologies et de générer un retour sur investissement suffisant ou satisfaisant pour les actionnaires (Marens, 2012 ; O’Sullivan, 2001).

L’émergence de la théorie de l’agence à la fin des années 1970 et au début des années 1980 est venue remettre en cause cette vision du management. Considérant que les marchés, plutôt que les dirigeants, assurent une allocation efficace des ressources limitées, cette théorie a soutenu l’idée selon laquelle l’entreprise devait poursuivre un seul et unique objectif, la maximisation de la valeur actionnariale (MVA), et les dirigeants être incités à répondre aux forces du marché (financier). Cette idée s’est progressivement imposée par le biais de l’enseignement des écoles de commerce et des départements d’économie aux États-Unis au point d’être devenue aujourd’hui une doctrine influente qui imprègne le comportement des cadres dirigeants, le raisonnement des investisseurs, la politique publique et la théorie de la gouvernance d’entreprise ainsi que le processus décisionnel en matière de réglementation et les processus d’évaluation et de rémunération des cadres-dirigeants (Khurana, 2007 ; Harvey, 2009).


  1. Des actionnaires qui ne s’engagent pas. Les actionnaires sont devenus plus distanciés des perspectives à long terme de l’entreprise du fait de la responsabilité limitée, de la liquidité de leur investissement, et plus récemment, de la fréquence accrue avec laquelle ils échangent leurs titres. Cela signifie que les actionnaires ne sont plus engagés dans des entreprrises mais seulement dans la recherche de profits à court terme (Davis, 2009 ; Muzrichi, 2010 ; Mayer, 2013).
  1. Un management « de passage ». La montée en puissance de la MVA signifie que les DG se trouvent dans des situations de plus en plus précaires sur des mandats plus courts. En conséquence, les dirigeants passent rapidement d’une entreprise à une autre, leur horizon de gestion est considérablement réduit et ils restent rarement en poste suffisamment longtemps pour avoir à traiter les problèmes suscités par leurs initiatives pour optimiser la valeur actionnariale (Useem, 1993, 1996 ; Dobbin et Zorn, 2005).
  1. Un appauvrissement des pratiques de management. La focalisation sur la MVA a conduit de nombreuses sociétés à adopter des méthodes de gestion standardisées. L’exemple le plus évident est celui des entreprises qui cherchent des PDG de renom, généralement très bien payés, mais dont le travail ne remplit pas nécessairement les attentes. La recherche montre que les entreprises réussissent mieux quand le management mobilise des pratiques et des compétences propres à leur industrie plutôt que des méthodes génériques (Khurana, 2004 ; Ghoshal, 2005).
  1. Un nivellement par le bas des conditions de travail. Les entreprises focalisées sur la maximisation de la valeur actionnariale sont amenées à travailler à la compression des coûts pour atteindre des rendements rapides, et donc à réduire la qualité des emplois (p. ex. en termes de salaires, prévoyance retraite et sécurité de l’emploi) lorsqu’ils ne sont pas externalisés, délocalisés, etc. Cette tendance encourage une forme de compétition entre les Etats qui favorise le dumping réglementaire et social (Davis, 2009).
  1. Un accroissement des inégalités au sein de l’entreprise. Le focus sur la MVA a entraîné un décalage rapide entre les rémunérations des dirigeants en haut de l’échelle et celles du milieu ou du bas de l’échelle des salaires. En conséquence, les gains de productivité ont bénéficié au cours des deux dernières décennies, à la direction générale et aux actionnaires plutôt qu’aux employés, sous la forme de salaires et d’avantages sociaux. Cela se traduit au niveau macro (sociétal) par une augmentation des inégalités désormais bien reconnue dans presque tous les pays occidentaux au cours des trente dernières années, augmentation qui tend à rigidifier les structures de classes et à freiner la mobilité sociale dans nombre de ces pays (McFall et Percheski, 2010).
  1. Une innovation en déclin. La focalisation sur la maximisation de la valeur actionnariale a conduit de nombreuses entreprises à délaisser l’investissement dans des domaines tels que la recherche et le développement pour favoriser d’autres mesures permettant d’augmenter immédiatement la valeur actionnariale (comme le paiement de dividendes et les rachats d’actions). Il en résulte que la performance future provenant des dépenses en innovation est véritablement compromise (Lazonick et O Sullivan, 2000).
  2. Efforts de restructuration. L’accent sur une performance financière étroite encourage les efforts de restructuration des entreprises comme les fusions, acquisitions, rachats et scissions afin d’impressionner les marchés financiers (Krippner, 2010). La plupart des efforts en matière de réorganisation sont motivés par l’impératif de création de valeur actionnairale et échouent à construire les capacités productives de long terme. Ces efforts de restructuration sont menés sans égard au cœur de métier qui n’est pas valorisé ; ils conduisent à des licenciements et des fermetures d’usines qui ont des effets dévastateurs sur les relations avec les parties prenantes, et qui détruisent ainsi la valeur actionnariale à plus long terme (Davis, 2009).
  1. Augmentation des risques systémiques. La MVA, associée à la responsabilité limitée, conduit à un risque moral systémique. Les actionnaires bénéficient de la valeur à court terme engendrée par une prise de risque inconsidérée pour l’entreprise, tout en étant protégés contre les pertes à moyen/long terme que ces stratégies risquées sont susceptibles d’induire : privatisation des bénéfices et socialisation des coûts (Djelic et Bothello 2013). C’est le cas des banques qui créent des produits financiers toxiques afin de maximiser le retour sur investissement pour les actionnaires à court terme, et dont le comportement a engendré d’énormes déséquilibres pour le système financier au sens large à plus long terme. Le coût de ces défaillances a été assumé par les autres parties prenantes de la société, tout particulièrement par les petits épargnants ou par ceux qui dépendent des services publics et des prestations sociales (Crouch, 2011).


Le comportement des dirigeants est aujourd’hui fortement influencé par l’idée, profondément discutable en droit ou en économie, selon laquelle les actionnaires sont la principale partie qui compte. Or cette idée amène à des décisions stratégiques axées sur le court terme, à des rémunérations élevées des dirigeants et à des stratégies de délocalisation en matière de production et de finance. Cette évolution s’opère au détriment des objectifs plus larges et à plus long terme de l’entreprise dans les sociétés modernes. Elle a contribué à détériorer la qualité du management et la compététivité. Il est paradoxal de constater que l’obsession de la MVA a en réalité détruit la valeur actionnariale à long terme et considérablement réduit la durée de vie moyenne des entreprises au cours des 30 dernières années (Davis, 2009).

L’heure est venue de remettre en question la focalisation excessive sur la MVA. Cela implique de restaurer un modèle où les entreprises ont des objectifs mulitples et parfois antagonistes – le retour pour les actionnaires n’étant que l’un d’entre eux.

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