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This article argues that the two dominant concepts of theory of the firm and the bases of modern management education, business practice, and public policy towards the firm, namely shareholder primacy and agency theory, are at best incomplete and at worst erroneous. They omit what was a substantial basis of discourse on the company in the first half of the 19th century, namely the notion of trusteeship. The article argues that reintroducing trusteeship addresses many of the current debates around capitalism, explains the bewildering patterns of ownership observed around the world, accounts for the recent failures of capitalism, and is a potential source of enhancing firm performance in the future.

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