Company Shareholders are the owners and investors of a company.
A corporation is governed by state law and the company's articles of incorporation and bylaws. The articles define the legal purpose of the business and describe the number of shares issued and voting rights. The bylaws provide more specific details on how to govern the company, including procedures on shareholder meetings and selecting and removing Directors.
Here is one dictionarys definition of the four basic rights of share ownership:
A common shareholder is normally entitled to four basic rights of ownership:
(1) claim on a share of the company's undivided assets in proportion to number of shares held;
(2) proportionate voting power in the election of Directors and other business conducted at shareholder meetings or by Proxy;
(3) Dividends when earned and declared by the Board of Directors; and
(4) Preemptive Right to subscribe to additional stock offerings before they are available to the general public except when overruled by the Articles of Incorporation or in special circumstances, such as where stock is issued to effect a merger.
The Shareholders primary responsibility is to elect the Board to govern the company. Other responsibilities include approving and amending the articles and bylaws and approving significant corporate transactions.
Each shareholder generally receives a stock certificate to identify the number of shares owned.
Please see our discussion on Shareholders and Ownership Culture.