An Admiralty for Asia: Isaac Le Maire and Conflicting Conceptions About the Corporate Governance of the VOC

52 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2010

See all articles by Oscar Gelderblom

Oscar Gelderblom

University of Antwerp; Utrecht University

Abe de Jong

Monash University; University of Groningen; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Joost Jonker

Utrecht University

Date Written: 24 2010 6,


The Dutch East India Company or VOC in 1602 showed many characteristics of modern corporations, including limited liability, freely transferable shares, and well-defined managerial functions. However, we challenge the notion of the VOC as the precursor of modern corporations to argue that the company was a hybrid, combining elements from traditional partnerships with a governance structure modeled on existing public-private partnerships. The company’s charter reflected this hybrid structure in the preeminent position given to the Estates General as the VOC’s main principal, to the detriment of shareholders’ interests. Protests by Isaac le Maire and Willem Usselinx about the board’s disregard for shareholders rooted in a conviction that it ought to conform to traditional partnerships with their judicious balance between stakeholders’ interests. However, the perceived public interest of a strong military presence in Asia prevented shareholders’ protests from changing the corporate governance.

Keywords: dutch east india company, VOC, corporate governance

JEL Classification: M

Suggested Citation

Gelderblom, Oscar and de Jong, Abe and Jonker, Joost, An Admiralty for Asia: Isaac Le Maire and Conflicting Conceptions About the Corporate Governance of the VOC (24 2010 6,). ERIM Report Series Reference No. ERS-2010-026-F&A, Available at SSRN:

Oscar Gelderblom (Contact Author)

University of Antwerp ( email )

St Jacobsmarkt 13

HOME PAGE: http://

Utrecht University ( email )


Abe De Jong

Monash University ( email )

900 Dandenong Rd
Room H3-56
Caulfield East, Victoria 3145

HOME PAGE: http://

University of Groningen ( email )

Postbus 72
9700 AB Groningen

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels

Joost Jonker

Utrecht University ( email )

Vredenburg 138
Utrecht, 3511 BG

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