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Corporate governance as a reform movement

Bernard Mees (Centre for Sustainable Organisations and Work, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)

Journal of Management History

ISSN: 1751-1348

Article publication date: 13 April 2015




The purpose of this paper is to consider the way in which agency theory has crowded out other approaches to understanding the governance of modern businesses. The paper rescues the meaning and context which informed the American corporate governance reform movement originally and demonstrates how the economically predicated agency approach became dominant in academic considerations of corporate governance.


Both primary and secondary sources were considered in a Foucauldian history of ideas approach.


Other approaches to corporate governance have been pushed out of the mainstream of corporate governance discourse by an economic model which excludes many of the key issues which informed the notion originally.

Practical implications

Dominant academic attitudes to corporate governance have occluded other ways in which the governance of corporations can be understood.


Previous accounts of corporate governance have ignored the alternative approaches represented before agency theory became dominant.



Mees, B. (2015), "Corporate governance as a reform movement", Journal of Management History, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 194-209.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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