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The Formative Years of the Modern Corporation: The Dutch East India Company VOC, 1602-1623

Author

Listed:
  • Gelderblom, O.
  • de Jong, A.
  • Jonker, J.

Abstract

With their legal personhood, permanent capital with transferable shares, separation of ownership and management, and limited liability for both shareholders and managers, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and subsequently the English East India Company (EIC) are generally considered a major institutional breakthrough. Our analysis of the business operations and notably the financial policy of the VOC during the company’s first two decades in existence shows that its corporate form owed less to foresight than to constant piecemeal engineering to remedy original design flaws brought to light by prolonged exposure to the strains of the Asian trade. Moreover, the crucial feature of limited liability for managers was not, as previously thought, part and parcel of that design, but emerged only after a long period of experimenting with various, sometimes very ingenious, solutions to the company’s financial bottlenecks.

Suggested Citation

  • Gelderblom, O. & de Jong, A. & Jonker, J., 2012. "The Formative Years of the Modern Corporation: The Dutch East India Company VOC, 1602-1623," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2012-007-F&A, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
  • Handle: RePEc:ems:eureri:32952
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    File URL: https://repub.eur.nl/pub/32952/ERS-2012-007-FA.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:hrv:faseco:30728046 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Jones, S. R. H. & Ville, Simon P., 1996. "Efficient Transactors or Rent-Seeking Monopolists? The Rationale for Early Chartered Trading Companies," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(04), pages 898-915, December.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. The institutional co-evolution of proto-multinationals
      by stephdeck1 in NEP-HIS blog on 2014-06-10 16:51:24
    2. The institutional co-evolution of proto-multinationals
      by ? in The NEP-HIS Blog on 2014-06-10 17:51:00

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Dutch East India Company; VOC;

    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth

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