Upper Left Quadrant Details Upper Right Quadrant Details Lower Left Quadrant Details Lower Right Quadrant Details Details



The concept of corporation, in its original formulation and use, dates back to the Gregorian reformation in the second half of the eleventh century. The corporation brought a veritable revolution in the fabric of politics by separating power from individuals, regulating it by legal rules and perpetuating it across time. Through the corporation, political authority could be asserted on collective grounds rather than the personal linkages of feudal society. In many respects, the corporation can be thus considered as the prototype experience of state power.
The horizontal axis captures the continuing tension between the social roots of the corporation and its public life -- and development. On the vertical axis, the same tension is analyzed with respect to the economic sphere which will become, by mid-XIXth century, the dominant drive in setting corporations free from their original statutory constrains.
The ULQ refers to mainstream corporate life in Europe through its medieval origins and well into the XVIII century, as a pluralistic pattern of self-governing bodies with different public functions - from townships to cathedral chapters and charities, from guilds to colonies and trading companies. The licensing of public authority through a corporate charter is perhaps Europe's main contribution to the institutional development of the New World, with two main innovations. In the URQ, corporations become a substitute - if not an alternative - to the state in the supply of public infrastructures and services, with legal authority farmed out on a patronage basis. From bridges and channels to railroads and electricity, corporations perform a key role in the administration of economic take-off. The LLQ locates the tendency to fully privatize corporate activity, with the rise of the business corporation and a decisive - if contrasted - move from statute to contract. This also leads to a major shift in the legitimacy of the corporate enterprise, from a procedural to an instrumental view, and from political responsability to economic utility. The LRQ refers to the contemporary interplay between large, multinational corporations and the state, mainly through the indirect power of regulatory laws and the protection of contract. It also serves as a reminder that, with all of its independence, the economics of corporations remains a political economy.