Business Week columnists Clayton M. Christensen & Scott D. Anthony make some pretty provocative comments about maximizing shareholder value in their column “Put Investors In Their Place: Why pander to people who now hold shares, on average, less than 10 months?”
Perhaps it is time for companies to adjust the paradigm of management responsibility:
“You are investors and speculators, not shareholders, and you temporarily find yourselves holding the securities of our company. You are responsible for maximizing the returns on your investments. Our responsibility is to maximize the long-term value of this company. We will therefore act in the interest of those whose interests coincide with our long-term prospects, namely employees, customers, the communities in which our employees live, and the minority of investors who plan to hold our securities for several years.”
They continue to argue for restructuring public companies. Whether or not you agree, it’s worth a read.
I’m sympathetic to the argument that management has to act in the long-term interests of not only of shareholders, but of the company’s greater constituency. It’s a higher standard than mere shareholder ROI, and more difficult to manage, but it reduces volatility and forces management to focus on what matters.
Wouldn’t it be nice if companies could focus on what matters, and not simply on this quarter’s results?
Instead of acting like John Wayne, management should be more like Einstein at the OK Corral.