Creating a new enterprise form: the GmbH, 1884 - 1914

11 February 2015
17:30  - 19:00
Campus Westend, Goethe Universität

Timothy Guinnane, Yale University

In cooperation with the Institut für bankhistorische Forschung e.V.

The lecture will be held in English.

The past decades in both the US states and the European Union have seen reforms to the law governing the organization of business enterprises, and more changes are under discussion. The World Bank’s Doing Business project stressed the importance of making it possible for firms in developing countries to establish new enterprises at low cost. In different ways, these policy agendas reflect the importance of the way company law shapes the fundamental contracting decisions that combine investment and entrepreneurship to create new firms. Germany's GmbH was the first example of a legal form for business firms specifically designed to suit the needs of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In the years since its creation, the GmbH has been enormously successful in Germany and widely influential elsewhere.

In his lecture Timothy Guinnane traces the development of the demands for the new enterprise form, the drafting and passage of the 1892 legislation, and its first two decades of existence. The beginnings of the GmbH history reflect the core issues of corporate finance and corporate governance that remain with us today.



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