26 September 2018

BOOK: Brian R. CHEFFINS, The Public Company Tranformed (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018). ISBN 9780190640323, $85.00

(Source: OUP)

Oxford University Press is publishing a book on the history of the public company in the USA during the 20th century


For decades, the public company has played a dominant role in the American economy. Since the middle of the 20th century, the nature of the public company has changed considerably. The transformation has been a fascinating one, marked by scandals, political controversy, wide swings in investor and public sentiment, mismanagement, entrepreneurial verve, noisy corporate "raiders" and various other larger-than-life personalities. Nevertheless, amidst a voluminous literature on corporations, a systematic historical analysis of the changes that have occurred is lacking. The Public Company Transformed correspondingly analyzes how the public company has been recast from the mid-20th century through to the present day, with particular emphasis on senior corporate executives and the constraints affecting the choices available to them. The chronological point of departure is the managerial capitalism era, which prevailed in large American corporations following World War II. The book explores managerial capitalism's rise, its 1950s and 1960s heyday, and its fall in the 1970s and 1980s. It describes the American public companies and executives that enjoyed prosperity during the 1990s, and the reversal of fortunes in the 2000s precipitated by corporate scandals and the financial crisis of 2008. The book also considers the regulation of public companies in detail, and discusses developments in shareholder activism, company boards, chief executives, and concerns about oligopoly. The volume concludes by offering conjectures on the future of the public corporation, and suggests that predictions of the demise of the public company have been exaggerated.


Brian R. Cheffins has been since 1998 the S.J. Berwin Professor of Corporate Law at Cambridge University. He has held visiting appointments at Columbia, Duke, Harvard, Oxford, Stanford, the University of British Columbia and the University of Western Ontario. Professor Cheffins has written widely in the areas of corporate law, corporate governance and business history.


List of Figure
List of Tables
Chapter One: Introduction
Chapter Two: Managerial Capitalism
Chapter Three -- The 1970s: Managerial Capitalism Sustained But "Something Happened"
Chapter Four -- The 1980s: Managerial Capitalism Taken Over
Chapter Five -- The 1990s: Gloom to Euphoria and Back
Chapter Six: The 2000s: The Decade From Hell
Chapter Seven: The Future of the Public Company

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