Journal Article

Shareholder Democracies? English Stock Companies and the Politics of Corporate Governance during the Industrial Revolution

Robin Pearson

in The English Historical Review

Volume 117, issue 473, pages 840-866
Published in print September 2002 | ISSN: 0013-8266
Published online September 2002 | e-ISSN: 1477-4534 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ehr/117.473.840
Shareholder Democracies? English Stock Companies and the Politics of Corporate Governance during the Industrial Revolution

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • British History
  • World History
  • European History
  • International History

GO

Show Summary Details

Preview

Much remains unknown about the political dimensions of business during the classic period of the British industrial revolution, c.1770‐1850. This article focuses upon one aspect of those politics, namely the internal relations between company directors, managers and shareholders. Its object is to search for ‘shareholder democracy’ in action, through a study of the governance of stock companies in the insurance industry, based upon the surviving records of nearly 50 firms. Before the 1830s this was the leading sector in the economy for the unchartered joint‐stock partnership, one of the most common and problematic forms of stock company organisation in Britain before the railway age. The scale of these enterprises, with their large shareholder base and extensive marketing operations, helped sharpen the principal agent issues which Adam Smith regarded as endemic problems in joint‐stock organisations. The first section of the article examines the scale of joint‐stock enterprise during the first industrial revolution – for its extent and importance have traditionally been questioned – and the legal and institutional context within which it developed. The second section presents evidence from the insurance sample which suggests that the history of ‘participatory shareholder democracy’ remained difficult and contested throughout this period.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: British History ; World History ; European History ; International History

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.