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Business Expectations: Are You Using Technology to its Fullest? by Jeffrey Blander, Bryan Bergeron

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Chapter 8. The Corporation

 

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its outcome, than to take the lead in introducing a new order of things.

 
 --Niccolo Machiavelli

While technical innovation and personal ambition are the engines that drive ideas to products along the Continuum, operating capital is the fuel that ultimately determines the extent of influence and success in the marketplace. While personal fortunes have been used successfully to create and nurture small companies, the rate of growth is limited by the size of personal assets and the willingness of institutional investors to assume not only the risk of losing their investments, but also the possibility of product and service liability related to the activity of the company. Because a corporation separates the individual investors from the business, the liability of the corporation is limited to corporate assets, not the personal assets of the owners and investors. The financial innovation known as the corporation dates back to the middle ages, when the construct was used to organize universities, monasteries, and guilds. However, the potential of using the corporation to exploit personal greed in order to generate vast sums of capital was not fully appreciated until the early 1700s in England. Although some reputable English businesses used the corporation as a form of insurance to organize and fund risky voyages, much of the activity around early corporations was ...

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