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Ownership and Control: Part I

Questions about ownership and control occupy a lot of my cognitive energy. They are also important questions within finance, law, management, and economics. Is separating ownership and control a good idea? Most of modern finance is premised on the idea that it is a bad idea and that the resultant agency problem needs addressed using all sorts of incentives. However, Colin Mayer in Firm Commitment suggests that separating ownership from control may have been a helpful innovation in the evolution of the corporation in that third parties are more likely to enter commitments and contracts with firms which don't have a dominant owner. Along with two co-authors I argue in this article that the ability to separate ownership from control is one of the rationales for the corporation.

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