12 November 2021
This event will explore Professor Ron Harris’s Going the Distance: Eurasian Trade and the Rise of the Business Corporation, 1400–1700 (Princeton University Press, 2020). In the book, Professor Harris explains why the business corporation first developed in the context of long-distance Eurasian trade, why around the year 1600, and why only in England and the Dutch Republic. The book asserts that four of the major attributes of the modern business corporation—joint-stock equity finance, lock-in of investment, transferability of interest and protection from expropriation by rulers—were designed in this formative period. Two attributes, separate legal personality and collective decision making, appeared in the context of pre-1600, non-business corporations, while a seventh attribute, limited liability, was formulated in a later period. Going the Distance explores the history behind a cornerstone of the modern economy, and how this organizational revolution contributed to the formation of global trade and the creation of the business corporation as a key factor in Europe’s economic rise.