Corporation Nation: Rise and Demise of the American Economic Juggernaut

Posted: 29 May 2011

See all articles by Robert E. Wright

Robert E. Wright

Augustana College - Division of Social Sciences

Date Written: May 28, 2011


The corporate governance breakdowns of the first decade of the 21st century, including the misaligned incentives that helped to cause the crisis of 2008, suggest an urgent need for reforms beyond those mandated by Dodd-Frank. This book offers reform recommendations based on the relatively successful corporate governance system employed by the over 22,000 U.S. corporations formed before the Civil War. Contrary to common belief, the corporate form became important in the U.S. after passage of the Constitution, not after the Civil War, and was largely a domestic product and not an import from Britain. Most early U.S. corporations were well-governed because of a system of checks and balances built into corporate charters, by-laws, and case law. Even partial replication of that system could prevent another round of corporate scandals or crisis-inducing governance breakdowns.

Keywords: corporate governance, policy reform, economic history, financial history, business history, U.S. economic growth and (in)stability

JEL Classification: N11, N21, N61, G30, H10, P12, P16

Suggested Citation

Wright, Robert Eric, Corporation Nation: Rise and Demise of the American Economic Juggernaut (May 28, 2011). Available at SSRN:

Robert Eric Wright (Contact Author)

Augustana College - Division of Social Sciences ( email )

2001 Summit Ave.
Sioux Falls, SD 57197
United States
605-274-5312 (Phone)


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