Mark J. Roe and Massimiliano Vatiero
In this chapter, we analyze three instances that illustrate the political economy of corporate governance. First, we examine how the politics of organizing financial institutions affects, and often determines, the flow of capital into the large firm, thereby affecting, and often determining, the power and authority of shareholder-owners. Second, we show how continental European nations have been slow in developing diffusely owned public firms in the years after World War II. The third political economy example deals with management in diffusely owned firms. The chapter also looks at the historical organization of capital ownership in the United States, noting how the country’s fragmented financial system limited the institutional blockholders and increased managerial autonomy over the years. Finally, it discusses the power of labor in postwar Europe, political explanations for the continuing power of the American executive and the board in recent decades, other political economy channels for corporate governance, and the limits of a political economy analysis.