Was Marshall right? Managerial failure and corporate ownership in Edwardian Britain

Michael Aldous, Philip T. Fliers, John D. Turner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Alfred Marshall argued that the malaise of public companies in Edwardian Britain was due to the separation of ownership from control and a lack of professional management. In this paper, we examine the ownership and control of the c.1,700 largest British companies in 1911. We find that most public companies had a separation of ownership and control, but that this had little effect on their performance. We also find that manager characteristics that proxy for amateurism are uncorrelated with performance. Ultimately, our evidence suggests that, if Marshall was correct in identifying a corporate malaise in Britain, its source lay elsewhere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-165
Number of pages35
JournalThe Journal of Economic History
Volume83
Issue number1
Early online date09 Jan 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2023

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