Firm Commitment: Why the Corporation is Failing Us and How to Restore Trust in it

Firm Commitment: Why the Corporation is Failing Us and How to Restore Trust in it

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By (author) Colin Mayer

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 138mm x 218mm x 34mm | 499g
  • Publication date: 1 March 2013
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0199669937
  • ISBN 13: 9780199669936
  • Sales rank: 263,168

Product description

The corporation is one of the most important and remarkable institutions in the world. It affects all our lives continuously. It feeds, entertains, houses and, employs us. It generates vast amounts of revenue for those who own it and it invests a substantial proportion of the wealth that we possess. But the corporation is also the cause of immense problems and suffering, a source of poverty and pollution, and its failures are increasing. How is the corporation failing us? Why is it happening? What should we do to restore trust in it? While governments are subject to repeated questioning and scrutiny, the corporation receives relatively little attention. Firm Commitment provides a lucid and insightful account of the role of the corporation in modern society and explains why its problems are growing. It gives a fresh perspective on the crises in financial markets, developing countries, and the environment. Based on decades of analysis and research, it describes a new approach to thinking about the firm which not only stops it destroying us but turns it into the means of protecting our environment, addressing social problems, and creating new sources of entrepreneurship and innovation. It sets out an agenda for converting the corporation into a twenty-first century organization that we will value and trust. It takes you on a journey that starts in the Galapagos, ends in Ancient Egypt, and in the process brings you to a new level of appreciation of the economic world we inhabit.

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Author information

Colin Mayer is former Dean of the Said Business School at the University of Oxford. He is an Honorary Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford and of St Anne's College, Oxford. He is an Ordinary Member of the Competition Appeal Tribunal and a Fellow of the European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI). He has served on the editorial boards of several leading academic journals and assisted in establishing the prestigious networks of economics, law and finance academics in Europe at the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) and ECGI. He was a Harkness Fellow at Harvard University, a Houblon-Norman Fellow at the Bank of England, and the first Leo Goldschmidt Visiting Professor of Corporate Governance at the Solvay Business School, Universite de Bruxelles. He was a director of Oxera between 1986 and 2010 and was instrumental in building the firm into what is now one of the largest independent economics consultancies in the UK.

Review quote

A constructive critique of the commercial corporation and ultimately an ambiguous agenda for change. Worthy of wide readership because it is also a carefully weighed historical reflection, and thus unlike the majority of books published in this genre. Oxford Today Vol. 25 No. 2 A provocative book ... Mayer's critique of the modern corporation will resonate with millions who sense that something serious has gone amiss. Bloomberg News There is no shortage of reflections on the market failure in the West. [But this is] not just another fashionable tome on the topic. Rather, it is a solemn contemplation of the roots of corporations' defects. You can sense the seriousness of his thoughts in every line. China Daily A smart new book. The Atlantic An important book. It provides an impressive explanation of the state of things and a blueprint for converting the corporation into a 21st century organisation that could perhaps be trusted to promote the interests of economies and societies everywhere. New Zealand Management Mayer makes his case clearly and passionately. Financial Times Summer Books Guide An outspoken book ... This is not a theoretical debate but one of urgent importance for economies around the world. GRC-Daily (Governance, Risk Management and Compliance) The combination of theory and its commercial application comes through in this thoughtful study of the corporation. The analysis is quality. Neil Hedges, Management Today Blunt ... thoughtful ... thought-provoking. Eric Krell, Business Finance Magazine Lays out a plan for a radical rethink of the purpose of the corporation. CSRwire.com Lucid analysis John Lloyd, Financial Times Corporate governance is manifestly in crisis: in this lucid and truly important book Colin Mayer explains why. Not only should you read this book, so should governments. Paul Collier, author of 'The Bottom Billion' An impassioned and important plea for a reorientation of values in the modern corporation, offered by one of the world's leading scholars of corporate finance, ownership, and control. Henry Hansmann, Oscar M. Ruebhausen Professor of Law, Yale Law School Companies and wealth generation, as Professor Colin Mayer argues in his important book, are about co-creation, sharing risk and long-term trust relationships. Will Hutton, The Observer One lesson of the financial crisis is that the corporation which is a purely financial entity is a financial failure. Colin Mayer makes an important contribution to the rethinking of the nature of modern capitalism. John Kay, Chairman, Kay Review of Equity Markets and Long Term Decision Making Modern theory on incentives, ownership and control of large publicly-traded corporations is broken. In Firm Commitment, Colin Mayer makes a huge and thoughtful contribution to fixing the broken theory. I heartily endorse his prescriptions - values, trustees and time-based shares - which are at the same time practical and break-through. Anyone interested in the future of democratic capitalism should read this book. Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management at University of Toronto Original and provocative, Colin Mayer's ideas on reforming the corporation deserve very serious attention. John Roberts, Stanford Graduate School of Business and author of 'The Modern Firm'

Table of contents

Preface ; PART 1: HOW THE CORPORATION IS FAILING US ; 1. In the Beginning ; 2. Morals and Markets ; 3. Reputation ; 4. Regulation ; PART 2: WHY IT IS HAPPENING ; 5. Evolving Enterprises ; 6. Bought and Closed ; 7. Capital and Commitment ; PART 3: WHAT WE SHOULD DO ABOUT IT ; 8. Value and Values ; 9. Governance and Government ; 10. Without End ; APPENDIX: REFERENCES AND FURTHER READINGS