A concept which points to the supposed shift within the modern corporation from the owner to the professional manager as the controlling figure. This is associated with the declining importance of family ownership and private property in contemporary capitalism.
The concept originates in a book of that title by James Burnham (1941) who asserted that not only industrial establishments but state agencies and all other significant organizations would become dominated by a new ruling class of managerial professionals pursuing their own interests. It is also associated with Adolf A. Berle and Gardiner C. Means (The Modern Corporation and Private Property, 1932), who believed that managers would pursue broader corporate goals, even at the expense of short-term profitability. See also bourgeoisie; ownership and control.