Efficiency or Power? The Rise of the Shareholder-oriented Joint Stock Corporation

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This paper explores the attempts to depict the global rise to dominance of the shareholder-oriented joint-stock corporation as largely economically determined and to portray these corporations as fundamentally “private” in nature. Through an analysis of the economic nature of the joint stock companies (JSCs) that began to emerge in growing numbers in the nineteenth century and of the historical construction of a corporate legal form for application to them - and of the very different possible futures contained within these developments: one highly “financialized”, the other increasingly “socialized” - the paper argues that lying behind what is often dressed up as economic efficiency are special interests and power. Against this backdrop, the paper seeks to highlight the ever sharper contradiction between the continuing private appropriation of corporate surpluses and the increasingly social and transnational character of production and growing volume of public interventions, national and international, needed to protect rentier investors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-330
Number of pages40
JournalIndiana Journal of Global Legal Studies
Issue number1
Early online date1 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Shareholders,
  • Joint stock companies,
  • Corporate regulation
  • Corporate governance,
  • Collaboration
  • Capital management,
  • Capitalism,
  • Corporate power

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