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

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  • Leslie Hannah

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Leslie Hannah, 2007. "The 'Divorce' of ownership from control from 1900 onwards: Re-calibrating imagined global trends," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(4), pages 404-438.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:bushst:v:49:y:2007:i:4:p:404-438
    DOI: 10.1080/00076790701295821
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Acheson, Graeme G. & Coyle, Christopher & Turner, John D., 2015. "Happy hour followed by hangover: Financing the UK brewery industry, 1880-1913," QUCEH Working Paper Series 15-01, Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University Centre for Economic History.
    2. 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," Working Papers wp383, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
    3. Acheson, Graeme G. & Campbell, Gareth & Turner, John D., 2016. "Common law and the origin of shareholder protection," eabh Papers 16-03, The European Association for Banking and Financial History (EABH).
    4. James Foreman-Peck & Leslie Hannah, 2012. "Some Consequences of the Early Twentieth Century Divorce of Ownership from Control," Working Papers 0023, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    5. Simon Deakin, 2013. "The Legal Framework Governing Business Firms & its Implications for Manufacturing Scale & Performance: The UK Experience in International Perspective," Working Papers wp449, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
    6. Eduardo van Hombeeck, Carlos, 2017. "An exorbitant privilege in the first age of international financial integration," Bank of England working papers 668, Bank of England.
    7. Sebastian A.J. Keibek, 2016. "Using probate data to determine historical male occupational structures," Working Papers 26, Department of Economic and Social History at the University of Cambridge, revised 21 Mar 2017.
    8. Janette Rutterford & David R. Green & Josephine Maltby & Alastair Owens, 2011. "Who comprised the nation of shareholders? Gender and investment in Great Britain, c. 1870–1935," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64(1), pages 157-187, February.
    9. Burkart, Mike & Miglietta, Salvatore & Ostergaard, Charlotte, 2017. "Why Do Boards Exist? Governance Design in the Absence of Corporate Law," CEPR Discussion Papers 12147, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. 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.
    11. Braggion, Fabio & Giannetti, Mariassunta, 2013. "Public Debate and Stock Prices: Evidence from the Voting Premium," CEPR Discussion Papers 9619, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Fabio Braggion & Lyndon Moore, 2013. "How insiders traded before rules," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 55(4), pages 565-584, June.
    13. Langlois, Richard N., 2013. "Business groups and the natural state," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 14-26.
    14. Vincent Bignon & Marc Flandreau, 2012. "The Price of Media Capture and the Looting of Newspapers in Interwar France," IHEID Working Papers 09-2012, Economics Section, The Graduate Institute of International Studies.
    15. Graeme G. Acheson & Gareth Campbell & John D. Turner & Nadia Vanteeva, 2015. "Corporate ownership and control in Victorian Britain," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 68(3), pages 911-936, August.
    16. Mary A. O'Sullivan, 2015. "Yankee Doodle went to London: Anglo-American breweries and the London securities market, 1888–92," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 68(4), pages 1365-1387, November.
    17. Steven Toms & John Wilson, 2012. "Revisiting Chandler on the Theory of the Firm," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics and Theory of the Firm, chapter 22 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    18. Miguel Á. López-Morell & José M. O'kean, 2014. "Rothschilds' strategies in international non-ferrous metals markets, 1830–1940," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 67(3), pages 720-749, August.
    19. Acheson, Graeme G. & Coyle, Christopher & Jordan, David P. & Turner, John D., 2018. "Share trading activity and the rise of the rentier in the UK before 1920," QUCEH Working Paper Series 2018-04, Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University Centre for Economic History.
    20. Peter J. Buckley, 2016. "Historical Research Approaches to the Analysis of Internationalisation," Management International Review, Springer, vol. 56(6), pages 879-900, December.
    21. 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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