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The Semi-Sovereign Corporation

Daniel J.H. Greenwood

Hofstra University College of Law

March 20, 2005

Utah Legal Studies Paper No. 05-04

For at least a generation, corporate law scholars have worked within a paradigm of the corporation as a nexus of contracts, using metaphors drawn from contract, property, agency and trust to describe the relationships between shareholders and the firm as something like those of strangers in a market.

But historically, corporations were understood to be political organizations much like a miniature state or sovereign. The political view emphasizes that the participants in a firm include more than the public shareholders, that they have relationships with each other that extend beyond the momentary contact of strangers in a spot-market, and most important, that the firm is a self-governing entity for many important purposes. Naturally, it also foregrounds the important issue of how corporations make the decisions they make and why only certain role-holders are enfranchised.

In this essay, I begin the process of resurrecting the memory of the semi-sovereign corporation. By examining the history of early corporations in the early colonial enterprises, I focus on the historical connection, now lost, between our business corporations and our municipal, governmental, ones.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 17

Keywords: corporate law, political economy, sovereign

JEL Classification: M10, N20

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Date posted: September 9, 2005  

Suggested Citation

Greenwood, Daniel J.H., The Semi-Sovereign Corporation (March 20, 2005). Utah Legal Studies Paper No. 05-04. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=757315 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.757315

Contact Information

Daniel J.H. Greenwood (Contact Author)
Hofstra University College of Law ( email )
121 Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549
United States
516-463-7013 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://law.hofstra.edu/greenwood

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