Thursday, September 3, 2020

Smith on Mid-Victorian British Company Laws

David Chan Smith, Wilfrid Laurier University, has posted The Mid-Victorian Reform of Britain’s Company Laws and the Moral Economy of Fair Competition, which appears in Enterprise & Society (2020):
This paper reconstructs the history of the reform of Britain’s company laws during the 1850s and makes three major arguments. First, the Law Amendment Society was the driving force for reform and organized the campaign for change. Second, the advancement of working-class interests and ideas of fairness were central to the conceptualization of these reforms and the course of their advocacy. Company law reform was broadly conceived to include the revision of the law of partnership, corporations, and cooperatives to create a level playing field in which smaller entrepreneurs could compete against established capitalists. Finally, central to this campaign was the institutional logic of “fair competition.” Socialists and liberals both used this logic, demonstrating how moral ideas can shape organizational change.
--Dan Ernst