IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/cpr/ceprdp/9759.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Business Groups in the United States: A Revised History of Corporate Ownership, Pyramids and Regulation, 1930-1950

Author

Listed:
  • Kandel, Eugene
  • Kosenko, Konstantin
  • Morck, Randall
  • Yafeh, Yishay

Abstract

The extent to which business groups ever existed in the United States and, if they did exist, the reasons for their disappearance are poorly understood. In this paper we use hitherto unexplored historical sources to construct a comprehensive data set to address this issue. We find that (1) business groups, often organized as pyramids, existed at least as early as the turn of the twentieth century and became a common corporate form in the 1930s and 1940s, mostly in public utilities (e.g., electricity, gas and transportation) but also in manufacturing; (2) In contrast with modern business groups in emerging markets that are typically diversified and tightly controlled, many US groups were focused in a single sector and controlled by apex firms with dispersed ownership; (3) The disappearance of US business groups was largely complete only in 1950, about 15 years after the major anti-group policy measures of the mid-1930s; (4) Chronologically, the demise of business groups preceded the emergence of conglomerates in the United States by about two decades and the sharp increase in stock market valuation by about a decade, so that a causal link between these events is hard to establish, although there may well be a connection between them. We conclude that the prevalence of business groups is not inconsistent with high levels of investor protection; that US corporate ownership as we know it today evolved gradually over several decades; and that policy makers should not expect policies that restrict business groups to have an immediate effect on corporate ownership.

Suggested Citation

  • Kandel, Eugene & Kosenko, Konstantin & Morck, Randall & Yafeh, Yishay, 2013. "Business Groups in the United States: A Revised History of Corporate Ownership, Pyramids and Regulation, 1930-1950," CEPR Discussion Papers 9759, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9759
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=9759
    Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at subscribers@cepr.org
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Andrei Shleifer & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Rafael La Porta, 2008. "The Economic Consequences of Legal Origins," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(2), pages 285-332, June.
    2. Simon Johnson, 2000. "Tunneling," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 22-27, May.
    3. Julian Franks & Colin Mayer & Hideaki Miyajima, 2014. "The Ownership of Japanese Corporations in the 20th Century," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 27(9), pages 2580-2625.
    4. Julian Franks & Colin Mayer & Stefano Rossi, 2005. "Spending Less Time with the Family: The Decline of Family Ownership in the United Kingdom," NBER Chapters, in: A History of Corporate Governance around the World: Family Business Groups to Professional Managers, pages 581-612, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Khanna, Tarun & Thomas, Catherine, 2009. "Synchronicity and firm interlocks in an emerging market," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(2), pages 182-204, May.
    6. Marco Becht & Colin Mayer, 2002. "Corporate control in Europe," Revue d'économie politique, Dalloz, vol. 112(4), pages 471-498.
    7. Boyan Jovanovic & Peter L. Rousseau, 2003. "Two Technological Revolutions," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(2-3), pages 419-428, 04/05.
    8. Tarun Khanna & Krishna Palepu, 2000. "Is Group Affiliation Profitable in Emerging Markets? An Analysis of Diversified Indian Business Groups," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(2), pages 867-891, April.
    9. Randall Morck & David Stangeland & Bernard Yeung, 2000. "Inherited Wealth, Corporate Control, and Economic Growth The Canadian Disease?," NBER Chapters, in: Concentrated Corporate Ownership, pages 319-372, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Grandy, Christopher, 1989. "New Jersey Corporate Chartermongering, 1875–1929," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(3), pages 677-692, September.
    11. Randall Morck & Michael Percy & Gloria Tian & Bernard Yeung, 2005. "The Rise and Fall of the Widely Held Firm: A History of Corporate Ownership in Canada," NBER Chapters, in: A History of Corporate Governance around the World: Family Business Groups to Professional Managers, pages 65-148, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Peter Temin, 1991. "Inside the Business Enterprise: Historical Perspectives on the Use of Information," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number temi91-1.
    13. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez‐De‐Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 1999. "Corporate Ownership Around the World," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(2), pages 471-517, April.
    14. Eric Hilt, 2014. "History of American Corporate Governance: Law, Institutions, and Politics," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 1-21, December.
    15. Djankov, Simeon & La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei, 2008. "The law and economics of self-dealing," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(3), pages 430-465, June.
    16. Fan, Joseph P H & Lang, Larry H P, 2000. "The Measurement of Relatedness: An Application to Corporate Diversification," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 73(4), pages 629-660, October.
    17. Morck, Randall K. (ed.), 2000. "Concentrated Corporate Ownership," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226536781, October.
    18. Paul G. Mahoney, 2012. "The Public Utility Pyramids," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(1), pages 37-66.
    19. Barca, Fabrizio & Becht, Marco (ed.), 2001. "The Control of Corporate Europe," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199247424.
    20. Craswell, Allen T. & Taylor, Stephen L. & Saywell, Richard A., 1997. "Ownership structure and corporate performance: Australian evidence," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 301-323, July.
    21. Randall Morck & Masao Nakamura, 2005. "A Frog in a Well Knows Nothing of the Ocean: A History of Corporate Ownership in Japan," NBER Chapters, in: A History of Corporate Governance around the World: Family Business Groups to Professional Managers, pages 367-466, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Bunkanwanicha, Pramuan & Fan, Joseph P. H. & Wiwattanakantang, Yupana, 2013. "The Value of Marriage to Family Firms," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(2), pages 611-636, April.
    23. Tarun Khanna & Yishay Yafeh, 2007. "Business Groups in Emerging Markets: Paragons or Parasites?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(2), pages 331-372, June.
    24. repec:hrv:faseco:30747162 is not listed on IDEAS
    25. Servaes, Henri, 1996. "The Value of Diversification during the Conglomerate Merger Wave," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 51(4), pages 1201-1225, September.
    26. Navin, Thomas R., 1970. "The 500 Largest American Industrials in 1917," Business History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(03), pages 360-386, September.
    27. Belén Villalonga & Raphael Amit, 2009. "How Are U.S. Family Firms Controlled?," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(8), pages 3047-3091, August.
    28. Tarun Khanna & Yishay Yafeh, 2005. "Business Groups and Risk Sharing around the World," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(1), pages 301-340, January.
    29. Marco Becht & Fabrizio Barca, 2001. "The control of corporate Europe," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/13302, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    30. Abe de Jong & Ailsa Roell, 2005. "Financing and Control in The Netherlands: A Historical Perspective," NBER Chapters, in: A History of Corporate Governance around the World: Family Business Groups to Professional Managers, pages 467-516, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    31. Jesse W. Markham, 1955. "Survey of the Evidence and Findings on Mergers," NBER Chapters, in: Business Concentration and Price Policy, pages 141-212, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Hannah, Leslie & Kasuya, Makoto, 2015. "Twentieth century enterprise forms: Japan in comparative perspective," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 64489, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Ronald W. Masulis & Peter K. Pham & Jason Zein, 2020. "Family Business Group Expansion Through IPOs: The Role of Internal Capital Markets in Financing Growth While Preserving Control," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(11), pages 5191-5215, November.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Randall Morck, 2009. "The Riddle of the Great Pyramids," NBER Working Papers 14858, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Randall Morck, 2011. "Finance and Governance in Developing Economies," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 3(1), pages 375-406, December.
    3. Morck, Randall & Deniz Yavuz, M. & Yeung, Bernard, 2011. "Banking system control, capital allocation, and economy performance," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(2), pages 264-283, May.
    4. Eugene Kandel & Konstantin Kosenko & Randall Morck & Yishay Yafeh, 2013. "The Great Pyramids of America: A Revised History of US Business Groups, Corporate Ownership and Regulation, 1930-1950," NBER Working Papers 19691, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Randall Morck & Bernard Yeung, 2009. "Never Waste a Good Crisis: An Historical Perspective on Comparative Corporate Governance," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 145-179, November.
    6. Vikas Mehrotra & Randall Morck & Jungwook Shim & Yupana Wiwattanakantang, 2010. "Must Love Kill the Family Firm?," NBER Working Papers 16340, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Vikas Mehrotra & Randall Morck & Jungwook Shim & Yupana Wiwattanakantang, 2011. "Must Love Kill the Family Firm? Some Exploratory Evidence," Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, , vol. 35(6), pages 1121-1148, November.
    8. Luis Alfonso Dau & Randall Morck & Bernard Yin Yeung, 2021. "Business groups and the study of international business: A Coasean synthesis and extension," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 52(2), pages 161-211, March.
    9. Heitor Almeida & Sang Yong Park & Marti Subrahmanyam & Daniel Wolfenzon, 2009. "The Structure and Formation of Business Groups: Evidence from Korean Chaebols," NBER Working Papers 14983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Claessens, Stijn & Fan, Joseph P.H. & Lang, Larry H.P., 2006. "The benefits and costs of group affiliation: Evidence from East Asia," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 1-26, March.
    11. Heitor Almeida & Daniel Wolfenzon, 2005. "A Theory of Pyramidal Ownership and Family Business Groups," NBER Working Papers 11368, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Randall Morck & Lloyd Steier, 2005. "The Global History of Corporate Governance: An Introduction," NBER Chapters, in: A History of Corporate Governance around the World: Family Business Groups to Professional Managers, pages 1-64, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Gur Aminadav & Elias Papaioannou, 2020. "Corporate Control around the World," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 75(3), pages 1191-1246, June.
    14. Hamadi, Malika & Heinen, Andréas, 2015. "Firm performance when ownership is very concentrated: Evidence from a semiparametric panel," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 172-194.
    15. Langlois, Richard N., 2013. "Business groups and the natural state," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 14-26.
    16. Almeida, Heitor & Park, Sang Yong & Subrahmanyam, Marti G. & Wolfenzon, Daniel, 2011. "The structure and formation of business groups: Evidence from Korean chaebols," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 447-475, February.
    17. Luis H. Gutiérrez & Carlos Pombo, 2005. "Corporate Valuation and Governance: Evidence from Colombia," Research Department Publications 3216, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    18. Susan Perkins & Randall Morck & Bernard Yeung, 2008. "Innocents Abroad: The Hazards of International Joint Ventures with Pyramidal Group Firms," NBER Working Papers 13914, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Randall Morck & Michael Percy & Gloria Tian & Bernard Yeung, 2005. "The Rise and Fall of the Widely Held Firm: A History of Corporate Ownership in Canada," NBER Chapters, in: A History of Corporate Governance around the World: Family Business Groups to Professional Managers, pages 65-148, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Larrain, Borja & Urzúa I., Francisco, 2013. "Controlling shareholders and market timing in share issuance," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(3), pages 661-681.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Business Groups; Corporate Ownership; Financial Market Regulation; Pyramids;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G30 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - General
    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance
    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9759. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://www.cepr.org .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://www.cepr.org .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.