Ownership (Lost) and Corporate Control: An Enterprise Entity Perspective
Biondi, Yuri (2020), Ownership (Lost) and Corporate Control: An Enterprise Entity Perspective, Accounting, Economics and Law: A Convivium, 10, 3. 10.1515/ael-2019-0025
TypeArticle accepté pour publication ou publié
External document linkhttps://www.degruyter.com/view/journals/ael/10/3/article-20190025.xml
Journal nameAccounting, Economics and Law: A Convivium
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Institut de Recherche Interdisciplinaire en Sciences Sociales [IRISSO]
Abstract (EN)In recent decades, advocates of the shareholder value perspective regarding corporations have depicted the shareholding investor as the owner of the corporation and the entrepreneur proprietor of corporate activity. Political discourse and regulatory frameworks keep imagining that one single subject or legal person holds the whole bundle of rights and responsibilities related to corporate investment, management and control. This subject would be the shareholding investor (acting as the owner of the corporation), while the bundle would be embodied in the one kind of security issued by the corporation, that is, the share.As a matter of fact, corporate practice shows fundamental disconnection between equity investment, enterprise management and corporate control. Over time, three main legal-economic innovations have featured this disconnection: (i) the very introduction of the corporate legal form; (ii) the working of corporate groups and financial intermediaries; and (iii) the overwhelming web of contractual arrangements and financial derivatives which characterise business affairs of listed companies and equity markets nowadays.In this context, this article argues that an ownership view of corporate activity misleads understanding and undermines efforts to enforce corporate sustainability, responsibility and accountability. Ownership and market are insufficient to assure this enforcement, while ownership sovereignty is irremediably lost. Insisting on such misunderstanding would result in facilitating if not favouring structuring opportunities to circumvent control and responsibility, including through regulatory avoidance.Instead, an enterprise entity view may comprehend the corporate activity (of which the corporation is one possible legal form, often embedded in a more complex legal structure involving an enterprise group) as an organisation and an institution which responds to and must submit to a variety of inside and outside checks and balances, with a view to assuring its consistent and continued role in business and society. From this systemic perspective, consolidated accounting and disclosure may represent a fundamental element of the institutional system of protection. In particular, a comprehensive accounting system – based upon economic substance (rather than legal form) – may make enterprise groups accountable for their ongoing activities to stakeholders (including shareholders), human community and nature.
Subjects / Keywordscorporate governance; corporate social responsibility; financial engineering; decoupling; enterprise groups
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