Ownership matters: private equity and the political division of ownership

Sukhdev Johal, Ismail Erturk, Julie Froud, Adam Leaver, Karel Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article returns to the issue of how ownership matters. It does so by developing a critique of the ‘advantage-value-return’ framework of assumptions about value creation from the product market, which are recurrent in resource based strategy and many other discourses that highlight what managers can do and the variable governance of management by owners. It then uses a case analysis of private equity and presents empirics which show how the financier general partners capture value so that general partners are enriched regardless of the performance of their investment funds. While private equity publicly claims to represent ownership with control for strategic decision making and operating efficiency, the undisclosed generic business model is the control of ownership through constructing a hierarchy of ownership claims for debt and equity suppliers in the capital market. Before or after the financial crisis that began in 2007, what matters is the position of the general partner as first among owners, not the motives, identity and actions of managers or the different suppliers of debt and equity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-561
Number of pages21
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Financialization
  • Private equity
  • Business model

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