IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Legal Regime and Business's Organizational Choice: A Comparison of France and the United States

  • Naomi R. Lamoreaux
  • Jean-Laurent Rosenthal
Registered author(s):

    In a recent series of articles, Rafael La Porta, Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes, Andrei Shleifer, and Robert W. Vishny have argued that countries whose legal systems are based on civil law (especially of French origin) have systematically weaker environments for business than those whose legal systems are based on Anglo-American common law. This paper addresses that argument by exploring the responsiveness of French and U.S. law to the needs of business enterprises during the nineteenth century, when both countries were undergoing industrialization. We find that contracting environment in the U.S. was in fact neither freer nor more flexible than that in France during this critical period. Not only did U.S. law offer enterprises a more limited menu of organizational choices, but business people in the U.S. had much less ability to adapt the basic forms to meet their needs than their French counterparts. Nor is there any evidence that American law evolved more readily in response to economic change than French law. In both nations, major changes in the rules governing organizational forms required the passage of new statutes, and governmental institutions do not seem to have worked any more expeditiously in the U.S. than in France to improve the menu of choices. To the contrary, it was not until the late twentieth century that U.S. business obtained much the same degree of contractual freedom that their French counterparts had long taken for granted.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w10288.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10288.

    as
    in new window

    Length:
    Date of creation: Feb 2004
    Date of revision:
    Publication status: published as Lamoreaux, Naomi R., and Jean-Laurent Rosenthal. 2005. "Legal Regime and Business's Organizational Choice: A Comparison of France and the United States During the Era of Industrialization," American Law and Economics Review, 7(1), 28-61.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10288
    Note: DAE
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
    Phone: 617-868-3900
    Web page: http://www.nber.org
    Email:


    More information through EDIRC

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
    2. Thorsten Beck & Ross Levine, 2003. "Legal Institutions and Financial Development," NBER Working Papers 10126, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1997. "Legal Determinants of External Finance," NBER Working Papers 5879, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Handlin, Oscar & Handlin, Mary F., 1945. "Origins of the American Business Corporation," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(01), pages 1-23, May.
    5. Beck, Thorsten & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Levine, Ross, 2002. "Law and finance : why does legal origin matter?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2904, The World Bank.
    6. North, Douglass C. & Weingast, Barry R., 1989. "Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 803-832, December.
    7. Daniel Berkowitz & Karina Pistor & Jean-Francois Richard, 2001. "Economic Development, Legality, and the Transplant Effect," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 410, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    8. Thorsten Beck & Ross Levine & Norman Loayza, 1999. "Financial Intermediation and Growth: Causality and Causes," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 56, Central Bank of Chile.
    9. Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, . "Investor Protection and Corporate Governance," Working Paper 19455, Harvard University OpenScholar.
    10. Mahoney, Paul G, 2001. "The Common Law and Economic Growth: Hayek Might Be Right," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(2), pages 503-25, Part I Ju.
    11. Stanley E. Howard, 1934. "The Limited Partnership in New Jersey," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7, pages 296.
    12. Forbes, Kevin F, 1986. "Limited Liability and the Development of the Business Corporation," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 2(1), pages 163-77, Spring.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10288. 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: ()

    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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

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

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.