Shareholder Value and the Transformation of the U.S. Economy, 1984–2000

Publication Date:
Jan 2007
Project Programs:
Social, Political, and Economic Inequality

Using data from 62 U.S. industries for 1984–2000, this article explores the connections between shareholder value strategies, such as mergers and layoffs, and related industry-level changes, such as de-unionization, computer technology, and profitability. In line with shareholder value arguments, mergers occurred in industries with low profits, and industries where mergers were active subsequently saw an increase in layoffs. Industries with a high level of mergers increased investment in computer technology. This technology displaced workers through layoffs and was focused on reducing unionized workforces. Contrary to shareholder value arguments, there is no evidence that mergers or layoffs returned industries to profitability.


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