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The Divorce of Ownership from Control from 1900: Re-calibrating Imagined Global Historical Trends

  • Leslie Hannah

    (Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo)

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    In 1900 US business corporations were dominated by plutocratic family owners, while British and French quoted companies more commonly divorced ownership from control. 'Democratic' corporate governance rules explain some of Europe's precocity and London's exceptional listing requirement of large free floats was an important initial factor in manufacturing. Later in the twentieth century, the United States overtook France by further divorcing ownership from control. Business historians should direct their efforts to understanding why Britain was an early pioneer, with persistently wide shareholding, why America took decades to catch up, and why other countries did not build on their earlier lead. The pursuit of alternative (largely imagined) histories of national ownership differences could usefully be curtailed.

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    File URL: http://www.cirje.e.u-tokyo.ac.jp/research/dp/2007/2007cf460.pdf
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    Paper provided by CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo in its series CIRJE F-Series with number CIRJE-F-460.

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    Length: 63 pages
    Date of creation: Jan 2007
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:tky:fseres:2007cf460
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    1. Leonard, W. N., 1949. "The Decline of Railroad Consolidation," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(01), pages 1-24, May.
    2. Brian Cheffins, 2004. "Mergers and the Evolution of Patterns of Corporate Ownership and Control: The British Experience," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(2), pages 256-284.
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    5. North, Douglass C., 1954. "Life Insurance and Investment Banking at the Time of the Armstrong Investigation of 1905-1906," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(03), pages 209-228, June.
    6. Mihir A. Desai & Dhammika Dharmapala & Winnie Fung, 2005. "Taxation and the Evolution of Aggregate Corporate Ownership Concentration," NBER Working Papers 11469, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Miwa, Yoshiro & Ramseyer, J Mark, 2000. "Corporate Governance in Transitional Economies: Lessons from the Prewar Japanese Cotton Textile Industry," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 171-203, January.
    8. Julian Franks & Colin Mayer & Hannes Wagner, 2006. "The Origins of the German Corporation - Finance, Ownership and Control," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 10(4), pages 537-585, December.
    9. Clifford G. Holderness & Randall S. Kroszner & Dennis P. Sheehan, 1999. "Were the Good Old Days That Good? Changes in Managerial Stock Ownership Since the Great Depression," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(2), pages 435-469, 04.
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