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date: 06 July 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores corporate governance as a transnational regulatory field. Mirroring the rise in importance of the idea of shareholder wealth maximization as a firm’s definitive performance measure, corporate governance became a hotly contested field of competing visions of firms’ institutional and normative infrastructure in search of creating the most advantageous conditions to attract capital in volatile markets. This shift occurred at the same time that regulatory transformations in Western postindustrial societies since the early 1980s had begun to significantly shift public service provision and state-organized frameworks for old-age security guarantees and access to health services. Today’s corporate governance laboratory is a transnational force field, fought over by a host of different state and nonstate actors and also by private actors such as institutional investors. Meanwhile, following the financial crises in 2001, 2008 and 2020 and the simultaneously growing pressure on corporations from human rights, gender equality, and environmental groups, the corporate governance debate again is shifting. This time, a diversity of issues are being discussed under the corporate governance rubric, indicating a more comprehensive engagement with the firm’s purpose and functions and its societal obligations and responsibilities. Given the crucial role of firms as the residual claimants of a wide-ranging retreat of the state from its role in guaranteeing and providing a wide range of social functions, corporate governance is a mirror for the transformation of public and private power, and it has to address the twenty-first-century challenges, including global value chains and the proliferation of institutional investors, unfolding on a planetary scale.

Keywords: corporate governance, financialization, public-private lawmaking, transnational corporations, shareholder value maximization, varieties of capitalism, corporate social responsibility, global value chain, stewardship, sustainability

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