In American practice the average shareholder, even of smaller corporations, unless he happens to be also a director or other officer, is not only helpless, but uninformed. He may be furnished, if it so pleases the directors, with a fairly complete annual report; the more enlightened corporations even send out monthly or quarterly statements of earnings. He does not, however, meet his directors and officers' face to face unless as a purely personal or exceptional event. He does not ask questions; he has no representative to dig up information for him; he is completely in the dark as to the plans formulated by the directors and even as to the real results and prospects of his corporation. There are, of course, some exceptional cases. A few stockholders occasionally drift into the annual meetings of large corporations, but these meetings are of so formal a character that the stockholders who attend are not likely to be men of much weight and influence. Partly because of these conditions, many able business men decline to invest in any corporation in which they cannot protect their interests by a controlling voice or at least a seat in the directorate.

In other countries, the tendency of the management to ignore the stockholders has not yet gone so far. Corporations in these countries are not of such enormous size as those in America. The custom of meeting the directors and officers at least once a year and of persistently seeking information as to the internal affairs of the company has not fallen so completely into disuse.