By Paul Ormerod
The corporate world exhibits a wide variety of structures. Co-operatives and partnerships have been around for a long time and have some well known examples. The Co-op, for example, was founded in Rochdale as long ago as 1844 and now is represented worldwide. Goldman Sachs was a partnership for most of its existence. There are more exotic forms of the corporate beast, such as companies limited by guarantee, industrial and provident societies, friendly societies and, recently made possible by legislation in the UK, community interest companies.
But by far the dominant form of corporate organisation is that of the joint stock company with limited liability. In other words, companies ultimately controlled by shareholders. These can range from one person bands to the world’s largest firms such as Google. (...)