Quiet Politics and Business Power: Corporate Control in Europe and Japan

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Quiet Politics and Business Power: Corporate Control in Europe and Japan (Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics)
By Pepper D. Culpepper
Cambridge University Press, 2010
248 pp. $29.99

Hostile takeovers often make for exciting news wherever they occur. But they are especially exciting when they occur outside the United Kingdom and the United States, since they are much less common in other countries. Around the world, resistance to such takeovers is gradually crumbling, although at markedly different rates. Culpepper, a political scientist, tries to explain why this is so, focusing on public policy in France, Germany, Japan, and the Netherlands. Whereas France and Japan have seen a significant decline since 1990 in the proportion of corporate equity held by "stable" shareholders (that is, shareholders that are unlikely to sell to an upstart buyer), Germany and the Netherlands have not. The change in stable shareholding, Culpepper argues, is not so much a cause as a consequence of shifting attitudes toward management. So long as the issue of corporate control remains politically unimportant, national policy will largely be determined by the preferences of companies' managers, rather than by those of institutional investors, workers, or even politicians. But if the issue develops political salience -- as it did in the United States after the Enron scandal or, more recently, in reaction to the high pay for executives at bailed-out banks -- management sometimes, but not always, loses control of the issue.

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