Leonardo Davoudi, Christopher McKenna & Rowena Olegario (2018) 'The historical role of the corporation in society', Journal of the British Academy, 6(s1): 17-47. DOI: 10.5871/jba/006s1.017
This article charts the historical role of the corporation in society from antiquity to the present day. Using a broad temporal and transnational approach, it argues that social purpose has been a defining trait of the corporation since the concept of legal personhood first appeared in antiquity. The direct connection between incorporation and social purpose formally broke in the 19th century, when countries like the United Kingdom and United States introduced general incorporation laws. Yet many corporations continued to act positively on behalf of society on a voluntary basis, but even as they acted against the interests of workers, consumers, and the environment. This article demonstrates that concerns about corporate power have a long history, and that societies over time have designed a variety of legal systems and forms of corporate governance to address these concerns.
The full article may be found here: https://ora.ox.ac.uk/objects/pubs:957321
Dr Leonardo Davoudi is an Associate Member of the History Faculty at the University of Oxford, and a researcher with the Global History of Capitalism project at the Oxford Centre for Global History.
Professor Christopher McKenna is University Reader in Business History and Strategy at the Said Business School, a Fellow of Brasenose College, and Co-Director of the Global History of Capitalism Project at the Oxford Centre for Global History.
Dr Rowena Olegario is a Senior Research Fellow at the Said Business School, and Co-Director of the Global History of Capitalism Project at the Oxford Centre for Global History.