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Is Berle and Means Really a Myth?



Adolf Berle and Gardiner Means famously declared in 1932 that a separation of ownership and control was a hallmark of large U.S. corporations, and their characterization of matters quickly became received wisdom. A series of recent papers has called the Berle-Means orthodoxy into question. This survey of the relevant historical literature acknowledges that the pattern of ownership and control in U.S. public companies is not monolithic. Nevertheless, a separation between ownership and control remains an appropriate reference point for analysis of U.S. corporate governance.

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