Investor Capitalism: How Money Managers Are Changing The Face Of Corporate America

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9780465050314: Investor Capitalism: How Money Managers Are Changing The Face Of Corporate America

General Motors and IBM dismissed their chief executives and laid off thousands of employees. Sears cut staff, closed its catalog, and auctioned off divisions. American Airlines, Bell Atlantic, and Digital Equipment reengineered their operations. Chase and Chemical Banks merged, while ITT and AT&T divided themselves.Taken in isolation, each company action may appear to be the product of unique circumstances, but behind each merger, each breakup, each shake-up, is the growing power of investors. And the investors wielding this power are not the plutocrats of old but the managers of pension funds, bank trusts, insurance contracts, charity endowments, mutual funds, and 401(k) plans. Pooling the money of millions of small investors, these managers have built massive stakes in the nation's enterprises, and in recent years they have begun to flex their muscles in reshaping corporate direction and improving company performance.The old rules of investing used to be simple and clear: you bought shares and left the operation of the company to a group of professional managers; if you where unhappy with the firm's performance, you sold your shares and moved on. But with the rise of large institutional investors, the option of selling has become problematic. It's one thing to cash out when you own a hundred shares of a company; it's another thing entirely when you own a hundred thousand shares.So fund managers have adopted a new strategy—changing the corporation's policies from within—with dramatic results. Investor Capitalism documents the ensuing struggles among interested parties that have transformed the way in which business goes about its business. Michael Useem takes us inside the boardrooms and into the proxy battles to track the origins of this shift in corporate power and analyze what it has meant for corporations, shareholders, employees, and the American economy. His insights reveal a brave new world of business, which we ignore at our peril.

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Michael Useem, a professor of management at the Wharton School of Business, explains an economic transformation that is not only changing corporate America but is having profound effects on the rest of society. Namely, that the managers of mutual funds now command so much power that corporate CEOs practically plead to have their stocks included in the fund. In turn, to make their stock appear attractive, CEOs are downsizing and restructuring companies in any way Wall Street deems favorable. And, strikingly, we approve of this action by supporting mutual funds. A revealing work.

Review:

"Michael Useem's insightful book documents a major shift in American business: toward shareholders as change agents. His in-depth insider interviews provide a unique, eye-opening view of the pressures on executives as activist investors and large financial institutions turn up the heat. Managers of the future must heed the message of Investor Capitalism." -- Rosabeth Moss Kanter, author of World Class: Thriving Locally in the Global Economy

Investor Capitalism documents the struggles among interested parties that have transformed the way in which business goes about its business. Michael Useem talks the reader inside the boardrooms and into the proxy battles to track the origins of this shift in corporate power and analyze what it has meant for corporations, shareholders, employees, and the American economy. Investor capitalism is creating a new world for those whose lives are shaped by executive decisions, and it calls into questions traditional theories of how corporations make decisions and operates in the U. S. and abroad. If the principles of family capitalism dominated industrialization at the turn of the century, and if the concepts of managerial capitalism rose to dominance by mid-century, the rules of investor capitalism are coming to prevail by century's end. Shareholder canons have changed. Management principles are different. Governance is no longer quite so passive. Investor capitalism is changing the face of American business and American society. Investor Capitalism tells the story of those changes. Investor Capitalism is readable and accessible, a perfect introduction for the non-specialist general reader to the complex issues which shape the economic headlines of today's national and international discussions of trade and commerce. -- Midwest Book Review

That this transformation is important strikes me as beyond question. -- The New York Times Book Review, Joseph Nocera

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Michael Useem
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ISBN 10: 046505031X ISBN 13: 9780465050314
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