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Re-thinking Milton Friedman, Part 2: Honoring Our GIANTS

We indeed stand on the shoulders of giants, I thought as I read a message from Jeff Mowatt.

Jeff, located in Gloucester, England, is the earnest Director of People-Center Economic Development. He and I were exchanging observations about an intriguing Partnership Economics blog post written by Aaron Hedges titled "Maximize Shareholder Value… When?" In that exchange Jeff, who precedes Aaron and me in the work of imagining and creating a better capitalism, did the kindness of pointing me to the late law professor Lynn Stout of Cornell University. I am indebted to Jeff for his institutional knowledge and recognize him as a giant I’m getting to know.

Lynn, in her 2012 book The Shareholder Value Myth, deconstructs Milton Friedman’s shareholder value myth by explaining how and why a corporation has no legal obligation to maximize profit for shareholders. Jeff then provided a link to one of Lynn’s YouTube videos, which I watched several times. In under the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee, Lynn offers clear and concise bullet point explanations of how we’re all operating under the fantastically harmful ideology of shareholder primacy, and why we shouldn’t continue with that fallacy.

Lynn A. Stout | Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Here is our link to Lynn’s video, and we encourage you to listen or watch it at least a few times. We also invite you to email us with us your thoughts on shareholder value and Lynn's arguments.

Having watched Lynn’s video several times, I was intrigued to learn more about Lynn and her work only to discover she died in 2018 after a courageous battle against cancer. I will buy and carefully read Lynn’s book. In part because I feel doing so will honor her and her memory. Also, in part, because I want to get to know, even posthumously, another of the giants on whose shoulders Better Capitalism and Partnership Economics stand.

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