Abstract: The Business Roundtable and Corporate Governance, 1973-2007

Ernie J. Englander


Alfred Chandler expanded business history's connections to business strategy. While many have extended Chandler's work, others have expanded Chandler in two other directions: (1) moving beyond individual firms in an industry to industry-wide trade associations and (2) moving beyond business strategy to connect to an industry's political strategy. This paper joins a smaller set of historians who have looked at pan-industry associations and their connection to corporate-wide political strategies. I examine the Business Roundtable [BRT] and its efforts to affect U.S. public policy. In particular, I focus on the organization's involvement in a series of policy issues regarding corporate governance— defining the role of corporate boards, setting and revealing executive pay, setting limits on shareholder voice, determining accounting and legal standards—in the multiple arenas of U.S. policy-making: the courts, the Congress, public and private regulatory agencies, and professional associations with regulatory responsibilities in law, securities, and accounting.