NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Ron Harris

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May 2007Putting the Corporation in its Place
with Timothy Guinnane, Naomi R. Lamoreaux, Jean-Laurent Rosenthal: w13109
This article challenges the idea that the corporation is a globally superior form of business organization and that the Anglo-American common-law is more conducive to economic development than the code-based legal systems characteristic of continental Europe. Although the corporation had important advantages over the main alternative form of organization (partnerships), it also had disadvantages that limited its appeal to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). As a result, when businesses were provided with an intermediate choice, the private limited liability company (PLLC) that combined the advantages of legal personhood and joint stock with a flexible internal organizational structure, most chose not to organize as corporations. This article tracks the changes that occurred in the...

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