The evolution of modern capitalismFrance in comparative perspective
This article examines the capital network (ownership) and the network of interlocking directorates among the largest business firms in France, Germany, and Great Britain. A comparative analysis of the ownership structure of the 250 largest corporations in the United States is also presented. Two major differences are identified in the structure of the networks : first, in Germany, and also in France, ownership is highly concentrated, i.e. shareholdings – generally by the non-financial sector – tend to be sufficiently large to allow the owners to dominate the firm. In Great Britain, and particularly in the United States, ownership is much less concentrated. Second, in France and also in Germany – in contrast to Great Britain – the network of interlocking directorates is closely related to the capital network, i.e. it serves to enhance the power of the owners. It is argued that differences in the ownership structure are to be explained by the historical development of capitalism in the different European countries (path dependency).