Research Handbook on the History of Corporate and Company Law
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Research Handbook on the History of Corporate and Company Law

Edited by Harwell Wells

Understanding the corporation means understanding its legal framework, but until recently the origins and evolution of corporate law have received relatively little attention. The topical chapters featured in this Research Handbook, contributed by leading scholars from around the world, examine the historical development of corporation and business organization law in the Americas, Europe, and Asia from the ancient world to modern times, providing an invaluable resource for both further historical research and scholars seeking the origins of present-day issues.
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Chapter 12: EU company law harmonization between convergence and varieties of capitalism

Martin Gelter


Chapter 12 examines European (EEC, EC, and EU) efforts to harmonize European company law since the establishment of the European Economic Community. It identifies two distinct periods in which harmonization between national laws was sought, periods characterized by different models of capitalism and thus different approaches to harmonization. The first period was characterized by a harmonization program outlined largely before the UK’s accession to the then-European Economic Community, one dominated by a German approach emphasizing a ‘coordinated’ model of capitalism that did not centre on shareholder value maximization. The second period, which began in the late 1990s after a lull in harmonization efforts, was in contrast more heavily influenced by the UK and centred on a more ‘liberal’ model of capitalism focusing on shareholders and, increasingly, the stock market.

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