“Despite decades of theorising and empirical research, the problems of corporate governance seem intractable, particularly the relationships between investors and companies. The thought experiment in this paper asks us to look at the problem through a fresh lens. It draws on the quaint British legal custom of calling shareholders “members”, and then uses the political philosopher Michael Walzer’s idea of membership in states, clubs, neighbourhoods, and families to draw lessons for the corporate world. This paper suggests that seeing how Walzer conceives “strangers” in a polity, with fewer rights but a path to membership, lets us rethink shareholder rights as something to be earned, through engagement and commitment, that is, through stewardship. Rethinking what membership of a company might mean points to a pragmatic escape from short-termism without institutional reform.”
Read this paper in the journal Philosophy of Management.