Abstract and Keywords
This chapter presents a history of the organization of American enterprise, from the first corporations to the emergence of large, vertically integrated conglomerates. It begins with a discussion of the monopolistic privileges of early corporations, and efforts to reform the process by which corporations were created. It then presents a discussion of the alternative organizational forms that became available to entrepreneurs. Finally, it analyzes the rise of “big business” in the late nineteenth century, and the legal and institutional context within which those enterprises began to emerge. The discussion of each is focused on the changing nature of the problems faced by entrepreneurs, and the changing legal and institutional environment in which they operated. Among the topics discussed are the evolution of corporation law, the choice of organizational form, recurring problems in corporate governance, the role of financiers in corporate governance, and the emergence of pyramidal holding company structures.
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