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The 'Divorce' of ownership from control from 1900 onwards: Re-calibrating imagined global trends

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  • Leslie Hannah
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    Abstract

    In 1900 US business corporations were dominated by plutocratic family owners, while British and French quoted companies showed higher levels of divorce of shareholding owners from management controllers. Distinctive European 'democratic' corporate governance rules explain some of Europe's precocity and London's distinctive listing requirement of large 'free floats' was an important initial factor in manufacturing. Later in the twentieth century, the United States displaced France by further divorcing ownership from control. Business historians should direct their efforts to understanding why Britain was an early pioneer with persistent wide shareholding, why America took decades to catch up and why other countries did not build on their earlier lead (or even married ownership and control more closely). The pursuit of alternative (largely imagined) histories of national ownership differences could usefully be curtailed.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Business History.

    Volume (Year): 49 (2007)
    Issue (Month): 4 ()
    Pages: 404-438

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:bushst:v:49:y:2007:i:4:p:404-438

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    Related research

    Keywords: Ownership and Control; Share Ownership; Family Ownership; Managerial Capitalism; Corporate Governance;

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    Cited by:
    1. M. Lüpold & Gerhard Schnyder, 2009. "Horse, Cow, Sheep, or 'Thing-In-Itself'? The Cognitive Origins of Corporate Governance in Switzerland, Germany, and the US, 1910s-1930s," ESRC Centre for Business Research - Working Papers wp383, ESRC Centre for Business Research.
    2. Hadjikhani, Amjad & Hadjikhani, Annoch Isa & Thilenius, Peter, 2014. "The internationalization process model: A proposed view of firms’ regular incremental and irregular non-incremental behaviour," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 155-168.
    3. Langlois, Richard N., 2013. "Business groups and the natural state," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 14-26.
    4. James Foreman-Peck & Leslie Hannah, 2012. "Some Consequences of the Early Twentieth Century Divorce of Ownership from Control," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-864, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
    5. Burhop, Carsten & Chambers, David & Cheffins, Brian, 2014. "Regulating IPOs: Evidence from going public in London, 1900–1913," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 60-76.

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