WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A “Modern” CORPORATION?

An Emerging New Definition?

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA

When I was in business school back-in-the day, I studied the late great economist Milton Friedman Ph.D who opined that the purpose of a corporation was to enhance shareholder value, in an ethical and legal manner; period? Shareholders could then do what they wished with profits; if any. Charitable giving or Selfish intent, etc!

Now, for those of you who haven’t had time to review the recent seismic tome from The Business Roundtable Announcement this week, let me review why this is as big a moment as the Larry Fink BlackRock letter.

  • The Business Roundtable, a group of chief executive officers of nearly 200 major U.S. corporations, issues a statement with a new definition of the “purpose of a corporation.” Seven [7] refused to sign.
  • The reimagined idea of a corporation drops the age-old notion that they function first and foremost to serve their shareholders and maximize profits.
  • Investing in employees, delivering value to customers, dealing ethically with suppliers and supporting outside communities are now at the forefront of American business goals; ie., community good.

MORE: https://www.forbes.com/sites/afdhelaziz/2019/08/23/the-power-of-purpose-milton-friedman-is-rolling-in-his-grave/#6ed8506f7532

DEFINITION: A shareholder or stockholder is an individual or institution (including a corporation) that legally owns a share of stock in a public or private corporation. Shareholders are the owners of a limited company. They buy shares which represent part ownership of a company.

DEFINITION: A stakeholder as defined in its first usage in a 1963 internal memorandum at the Stanford Research Institute, are “those groups without whose support the organization would cease to exist.” The theory was later developed and championed by R. Edward Freeman in the 1980s.

LINK: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/19/the-ceos-of-nearly-two-hundred-companies-say-shareholder-value-is-no-longer-their-main-objective.html

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The Conundrum [real or perceived]

Shareholders are ever stakeholders in a corporation, but stakeholders are not always shareholders. A shareholder possesses part of a public company through shares of stock, while a stakeholder has a concern in the performance of a company for reasons other than stock performance or appreciation; ie., community good.

QUERY: So, exactly who will determine community good? And, who selects the stakeholders? Haven’t socially responsible companies, stocks, mutual funds and ETFs, etc., been in existence for decades? Is Professor Friedman rolling in his grave? OR, is this condundrum just linguistic gymnastics?

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LINK: https://www.amazon.com/Dictionary-Health-Economics-Finance-Marcinko/dp/0826102549/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1254413315&sr=1-6

Your thoughts are appreciated.

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Invite Dr. Marcinko

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