New Histories of the Corporate Form

Sarah Quinn
Session Organizers:
Greta Krippner , Marion Fourcade and Sarah Quinn
Friday, June 24, 2016: 4:15 PM-5:45 PM
228 Dwinelle (Dwinelle Hall)
New Histories of the Corporate Form

Organizers: Marion Fourcade, Greta Krippner, Sarah Quinn

Chair: Greta Krippner, University of Michigan

Session Description: Neoclassical economics has traditionally had an exceedingly thin theory of the corporation, viewing it simply as a container of productive relations to be analyzed using market metaphors. Revisionist work in either a Williamsonian or Chandlerian guise problematized this overly simplistic conception by treating organizational features of the corporation seriously, but stayed within the broader neoclassical view by understanding firms as necessarily efficient solutions to the challenges of the market coordination. Until recently, the parameters of much sociological and historical work on the corporation has been set by the neoclassical paradigm and its revisionist critique, seeking to add complexity to efficiency arguments by understanding the emergence and functioning of the large industrial corporation as a reflection of wider social forces. While representing an important advance on the work it critiques, this research leaves unanswered many questions about the social practices that structure production inside and across firm boundaries, and how these processes intersect a diverse and shifting legal and institutional terrain. This panel presents a sampling of new work by historians, sociologists, and legal scholars that begins to open up the corporation to a broader set of questions about the unlikely origins of managerial practices we associate with the large industrial firm, the historical evolution of legal classifications defining workers as employees or independent contractors, and the contested history of attempts to construct the corporation as a “person” for purposes of the law.

Wage Slave or Entrepreneur? Contesting the Dualism of Legal Worker Identities
Veena Dubal, University of California - Hastings Law School