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This note offers a constructive critique of Gérard Duménil and Dominique Lévy’s thesis about the managerial mode of production. While recognizing the merits of their work, the note tries to show that there is a disproportion between the theory, which is very broad, and its empirical basis, which is too weak to support it. We develop three counter-arguments. First, the authors rely almost exclusively on the observation of the rise of the wage share in top incomes in the United States, a development that can be challenged by correctly categorizing the incomes of top managers. Second, they neglect alternative data and indicators that give very different pictures of the historical evolution. Finally, they do not study the evolution of organizational forms that are at the basis of the transformation of the class structure, which puts in perspective the importance of bureaucracy. Two counter-examples are given against the thesis of managerialism: the partners of private equity firms constitute new financial capitalists; the top managers of the largest multinational companies are shareholding managers.

Fabien Foureault
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