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Vol 23 No 5 May/June 2018

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Drafting Commercial Agreements

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The Ownership of Enterprise

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Henry HansmannSam Harris Professor of Law, Yale Law School, USA

ISBN13: 9780674649705
ISBN: 0674649702
Published: December 1996
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Format: Hardback
Price: Out of print

The investor-owned corporation is the conventional form for structuring large-scale enterprise in market economies. But it is not the only one. Even in the United States, noncapitalist firms play a vital role in many sectors. Employee-owned firms have long been prominent in the service professions - law, accounting, investment banking, medicine - and are becoming increasingly important in other industries. The buyout of United Airlines by its employees is the most conspicuous recent instance. Farmer-owned produce cooperatives dominate the market for most basic agricultural commodities. Consumer-owned utilities provide electricity to one out of eight households.;Key firms such as MasterCard, Associated Press, and Ace Hardware are service and supply cooperatives owner by local businesses. Occupant-owned condominiums and cooperatives are rapidly displacing investor-owned rental housing. Mutual companies owned by their policyholders sell half of all life insurance and one-quarter of all property and liability insurance. And nonprofit firms, which have no owners at all, account for 90 percent of all nongovernmental schools and colleges, two-thirds of all hospitals, half of all day-care centres, and one-quarter of all nursing homes.;Henry Hansmann explores the reasons for this diverse pattern of ownership. He explains why different industries and different national economies exhibit different distributions of ownership forms. The key to the success of a particular form he shows, depends on the balance between the costs of contracting in the market and the costs of ownership. And he examines how this balance is affected by history and by the legal and regulatory framework within which firms are organized.;With noncapitalist firms now playing an expanding role in the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe and Asia as well as in the developed market economies of the West, ""The Ownership of Enterprise"" should be a relevant book for business people, policymakers and scholars.

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Part 1 A theory of enterprise ownership: an analytic framework; the costs of contracting; the costs of ownership.
Part 2 Producer-owned enterprise: investor-owned firms; the benefits and costs of employee ownership; governing employee-owned firms; agricultural and other producer cooperatives.
Part 3 Customer-owned enterprise: retail, wholesale and supply firms; utilities; clubs and other associative organizations; housing.
Part 4 Non-profit and mutual enterprise: non-profit firms; banks; insurance companies.