Department of Economics


Date of this Version

June 1975


Published by The Journal of Economic History 35:2 (June 1975), pp. 428-457. Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Economic History Association. Copyright © 1975. Used by permission.


Few would deny that the U.S. economy is today dominated by huge corporations. Much recent writing has proposed that these corporations form a stable and monopolistic (or oligopolistic) "core" around which a more competitive "peripheral" sector exists. Firms in the core are said to be "eternal," while firms in the periphery demonstrate the mortality and high turnover expected in competitive industries. In another context, Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy emphasized the permanence of big corporations when they noted:

The real capitalist today is not the individual businessman but the corporation. .. . The giant corporation of today is an engine for maximizing profits and accumulating capital to at least as great an extent as the individual enterprise of an earlier period. But it is not merely an enlarged and institutionalized version of the personal capitalist. There are major differences between these types of business enterprise, and at least two of them are of key importance to a general theory of monopoly capitalism: the corporation has a longer time horizon than the individual capitalist, and it is a more rational calculator.

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