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Revisiting American Exceptionalism: Democracy and the Regulation of Corporate Governance in Nineteenth-Century Pennsylvania

70 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2014  

Naomi R. Lamoreaux

Yale University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: June 2014

Abstract

The legal rules governing businesses' organizational choices have varied across nations along two main dimensions: the number of different forms that businesses can adopt; and the extent to which businesses have the contractual freedom to modify the available forms to suit their needs. Until the late twentieth century, businesses in the U.S. had a narrower range of forms from which to choose than their counterparts in these other countries and also much less ability to modify the basic forms contractually. This article uses the case of Pennsylvania to argue that the sources of this "American exceptionalism" reside in the interplay between the early achievement of universal (white) manhood suffrage and elite efforts to safeguard property rights.

Suggested Citation

Lamoreaux, Naomi R., Revisiting American Exceptionalism: Democracy and the Regulation of Corporate Governance in Nineteenth-Century Pennsylvania (June 2014). NBER Working Paper No. w20231. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2457706

Naomi R. Lamoreaux (Contact Author)

Yale University ( email )

27 Hillhouse
New Haven, CT 06520
United States
2034323625 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.yale.edu/faculty1/lamoreaux.htm

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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