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date: 18 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter traces the evolution of the corporation through different eras of the past century, with a focus on the development of competing primacies of corporate law. Successive eras of managerialism, technocracy, and shareholder primacy are examined in the Darwinian struggle for corporate power and business success. Our understanding of the modern corporation over the last 100 years cannot be separated from the nature of American hegemony over the world system during that time frame. Likewise, it cannot be separated from America’s unique twin ideologies—individualism and American exceptionalism. Nor can it be separated from the struggle for power between the modern corporation, viewed as a system, and the American nation state. This chapter deconstructs our changing understandings as to whose interests hold primacy in governance of the modern corporation, with a constant eye on the underlying political struggle for power and meaning, and the role which theories of the corporation play in these struggles.

Keywords: evolution of corporation, corporate law, managerialism, technocracy, shareholder primacy, American hegemony

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