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The Diffusion of Ideas over Contested Terrain: The (Non)Adoption of a Shareholder Value Orientation in German Firms, Administrative Science Quarterly


This study offers a sociopolitical perspective on the international spread of corporate governance models. We unpack the heterogeneity of interests and preferences across and within types of shareholders and senior managers over time in an analysis of the adoption of a shareholder value orientation among contemporary German firms. Using extensive data on more than 100 of the largest publicly traded German companies from 1990 to 2000, we find that the influence of major shareholder groups (e.g., banks, industrial corporations, governments, and families) and senior manager types (differing educational backgrounds and ages) can be clearly observed only after redefining these key actors according to common interests and preferences. We also find evidence that German firms engage in decoupling by espousing but not implementing a shareholder value orientation but show that the presence of more powerful and more committed key actors reduces the likelihood of decoupling. We discuss the implications of our findings for research on symbolic management, the diffusion of corporate practices, and the debate over the convergence of national governance systems.




Peer C. Fiss, Edward Zajac

Date Published



Fiss, Peer C., and Edward Zajac. 2004. The Diffusion of Ideas over Contested Terrain: The (Non)Adoption of a Shareholder Value Orientation in German Firms. Administrative Science Quarterly.(4): 501-534.


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