City Research Online

What is the corporation and why does it matter?

Veldman, J. & Willmott, H. (2013). What is the corporation and why does it matter?. M@n@gement, 16, pp. 605-620. doi: 10.3917/mana.165.0605


‘Management’ is widely and deeply embedded in ‘corporations’. Yet in many studies of management and organization the corporation is an influential but shadowy and largely unaccountable presence. Rarely is the modern, capitalist corporation thematized. This article contributes to remedying this omission by attending to how the corporation is a product of three imaginaries: legal, economic, and political. In the post-medieval order, the legal imaginary made possible the construction of the corporate form; the economic imaginary has promoted an expansion of this form and shaped its subsequent development; and, finally, the political imaginary offers a way of appreciating how politics, including the power of the state, is key to (i) the rise of the modern corporation, and (ii) to a recognition of how the primacy of the political in the formation and development of the modern corporation is articulated through, and obscured behind, the dominance of legal and economic imaginaries. Attending to the three imaginaries, it is argued, is central to a thorough comprehension of the modern corporation, a concomitant appreciation of its deeply divisive consequences, and lastly, to the development of policies designed to counteract its malign effects.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
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