Working paper
Open access

Change for continuity: the making of the société anonyme in 19th century france

ContributorsRochat, Jean
Number of pages26
  • Working Papers of the Paul Bairoch Institute of Economic History; 7/2016
Publication date2016

The corporation (société anonyme) first appeared in French law in the code de commerce promulgated in 1807. Until 1863-1867, a special authorization granted by the government was needed for any creation of a SA. The literature generally emphasizes the importance of these two dates: the first one as the birth of a fundamental institution for the development of industrial capitalism; the second one as the triumph of private capitalism over the state and the liberalization of the SA. This paper challenges this narrative and shows that these changes in formal law were in reality vehicles for the continuity of practices. On the contrary, the stability of the law between 1807 and 1867 disguises radical change in the meaning of the SA. More generally, this paper highlights the importance of the actors' interpretation of the institutions they activate and, consequently, the limits of the approaches that are limited to observing the formal characteristics of the institutions.

  • JEL : N00
Citation (ISO format)
ROCHAT, Jean. Change for continuity: the making of the société anonyme in 19th century france. 2016
Main files (1)
Working paper
  • PID : unige:90196

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