Gardiner C. Means

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Gardiner Coit Means (1896 in Windham, Connecticut – February 15, 1988 in Vienna, Virginia) was an American economist who worked at Harvard University, where he met lawyer-diplomat Adolf Berle. Together they wrote the seminal work of corporate governance, The Modern Corporation and Private Property.


  • Why have stockholders?... What contribution do they make, entitling them to heirship of half the profits of the industrial system, receivable partly in the form of dividends, and partly in the form of increased market values resulting from undistributed corporate gains? Stockholders toil not, neither do they spin, to earn that reward. They are beneficiaries by position only. Justification for their inheritance must be sought outside classic economic reasoning.... [and] can be founded only upon social grounds... that justification turns on the distribution as well as the existence of wealth. Its force exists only in direct ratio to the number of individuals who hold such wealth. Justification for the stockholder's existence thus depends on increasing distribution within the American population. Ideally the stockholder's position will be impregnable only when every American family has its fragment of that position and of the wealth by which the opportunity to develop individuality becomes fully actualized.
    • Adolf A. Berle and Gardiner C. Means. The Modern Corporation and Private Property. 1932/1967, p. xxiii
  • We now have single corporate enterprises employing hundreds of thousands of workers, having hundreds of thousands of stockholders, using billions of dollars' worth of the instruments of production, serving millions of customers, and controlled by a single management group. These are great collectives of enterprise, and a system composed of them might well be called "collective capitalism."
    • Gardiner C. Means The Corporate Revolution in America (1962)

About Means[edit]

  • In recent years economists and historians have increasingly turned their attention to modern economic institutions. Economists such as Edward S. Mason, A. D. H. Kaplan, John Kenneth Galbraith, Oliver E. Williamson, William J. Baumol, Robin L. Marris, Edith T. Penrose, Robert T. Averitt, and R. Joseph Monsen, following the pioneering work of Adolph A. Berle, Jr., and Gardiner C. Means, have studied the operations and actions of modern business enterprise. They have not attempted, however, to examine its historical development, nor has their work yet had a major impact on economic theory. The firm remains essentially a unit of production, and the theory of the firm a theory of production.

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