Management by stakeholders

From an article in the Economist:

One reason why Germany’s biggest firms have not cut many jobs is its cherished model of stakeholder capitalism, which took root after the second world war and contributed to its rapid economic growth until the 1980s. Under this model, workers’ representatives fill half the seats on firms’ supervisory boards. A separate management board is responsible for running the business day to day. Companies are also required to act in the interest of all “stakeholders”, not just of shareholders.

That creates a tension between profits and jobs. A seminal, if dated, study is illustrative. It found that 83% of German managers surveyed in 1995 considered that the companies they worked for belonged to stakeholders rather than shareholders. Some 60% said that saving jobs was more important than paying dividends. In America and Britain, by contrast, almost 90% of managers said that paying dividends was more important than preserving jobs and 75% of managers felt that firms belonged to their shareholders.

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