In this paper, I examine the life and times of Adolf A. Berle Jr., perhaps the most influential scholar in the field of corporate governance. Specifically, I examine his contribution in light of the technological and institutional changes that occurred in the late nineteenth century—changes that were germane to his thinking and understanding of corporate governance. I argue that, despite his perspicacity, he failed to appreciate the changing role of corporate officers—that is, from that of fiduciary agent to that of visionary, founder, and essential element in corporate success. Put differently, in the early twentieth century, the key asset in the large, modern corporation was its officers’ ability to manage and control several large-scale, vertically integrated lines of business. This paper will show that this was reflected in the composition of the Board in the post-WWII period where officers dominated and in corporate control in general.
Bernard C. Beaudreau, Technological and Institutional Crossroads: The Life and Times of Adolf A. Berle Jr., 42 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 345 (2019).
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