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THE SEPARATION OF DIRECTORS AND MANAGERS: A HISTORICAL EXAMINATION OF THE STATUS OF MANAGERS

Abstract : The aim of the article is to contrast the historical rise of the managerial function and its reception in law. It thus contributes to the debates on the separation of ownership and control, by showing that managers were never recognized in law. As a result, the managerial function was not protected in law. Design/methodology/approach We bring together management history and the history of UK company law to study the emergence of management in the early twentieth century and the law’s response. We bring new historical evidence to bear on the company law reforms of the second half of the twentieth century, and in particular, on the changes brought about by the Cohen Committee report of 1945. Findings Scientific progress and innovation were important rationales for the emergence of managerial authority. They implied new economic models, new competencies and wider social responsibilities. Our analysis shows that these rationales have been overlooked by company law. The lack of conceptualization of the management in law allowed reforms after 1945 that gave shareholders greater influence over corporate strategy, reducing managerial discretion and the scope for innovation. Research limitations Our study focuses on the UK. Further research is needed to confirm whether other countries followed a similar path, both in terms of the emergence of management, and in terms of the law’s approach. Originality/value This article is the first, to our knowledge, to examine the law’s historical approach to management. It calls for a reappraisal of the status of managers and the way corporate governance organizes the separation of ownership and control.
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Contributor : Blanche Segrestin <>
Submitted on : Monday, December 17, 2018 - 11:40:17 AM
Last modification on : Friday, October 23, 2020 - 5:03:05 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Monday, March 18, 2019 - 2:29:06 PM

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Blanche Segrestin, Andrew Johnston, Armand Hatchuel. THE SEPARATION OF DIRECTORS AND MANAGERS: A HISTORICAL EXAMINATION OF THE STATUS OF MANAGERS. Journal of Management History (Archive), Emerald, In press, 25 (2), pp.141-164. ⟨hal-01957329⟩

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