Innovative Business Models and Varieties of Capitalism

Financialization of the U.S. Corporation

How does economic organization affect economic performance? This analysis of the historical transformation of the U.S. economy from the business model of the “old economy” to that of the “new economy” demonstrates that the Japanese challenge of the 1980s was an important catalyst for the shift. Anchored by the “Chandlerian” corporation, the old model delivered economic growth that was much more equitable and stable than the new one. Furthermore, the business model that underpinned the Japanese challenge represented a superior version of the old U.S. prototype. The financialization of corporate decision-making under the new paradigm has been the prime source of inequity and instability in U.S. economic performance over the past three decades. As manifested in outsized executive pay and massive stock buybacks, the financialization of the U.S. corporation threatens long-term economic growth.

First published in the Business History Review, Dec. 2010, Vol. 84, Issue 04. First published online April 14, 2011.