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Revisiting American Exceptionalism: Democracy and the Regulation of Corporate Governance in Nineteenth-Century Pennsylvania

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  • Naomi R. Lamoreaux

Abstract

The legal rules governing businesses' organizational choices have varied across nations along two main dimensions: the number of different forms that businesses can adopt; and the extent to which businesses have the contractual freedom to modify the available forms to suit their needs. Until the late twentieth century, businesses in the U.S. had a narrower range of forms from which to choose than their counterparts in these other countries and also much less ability to modify the basic forms contractually. This article uses the case of Pennsylvania to argue that the sources of this "American exceptionalism" reside in the interplay between the early achievement of universal (white) manhood suffrage and elite efforts to safeguard property rights.

Suggested Citation

  • Naomi R. Lamoreaux, 2014. "Revisiting American Exceptionalism: Democracy and the Regulation of Corporate Governance in Nineteenth-Century Pennsylvania," NBER Working Papers 20231, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20231
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K2 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law
    • N41 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913

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