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Executives, investors, and the business press routinely chant the mantra that corporations are "owned by shareholders" and managers are obliged to "maximize shareholder value." The results have been disastrous. "Shareholder primacy" thinking causes corporate managers to focus myopically on short-term earnings reports at the expense of long-term performance; discourages investment and innovation; harms employees, customers, and communities; and causes companies to indulge in reckless, sociopathic, and socially irresponsible behaviours. In this powerful new book, distinguished legal scholar Lynn Stout proves that there is in fact absolutely no legal obligation for corporations to maximize shareholder value - people just assumed there was. Nor, she demonstrates, is it the optimal economic model - that's just another unproven assumption. And in fact, it is not the best model: Stout presents empirical evidence which shows that companies that put share value first do not outperform companies that emphasize it less. Shareholder primacy actually hurts individual investors by obscuring their specific, diverse interests in the name of serving a hypothetical, homogeneous, abstract shareholder. Stout looks at new theories that not only better serve the needs of real human beings who invest, but of corporations and society as well.