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Replica of an East Indiaman of the Dutch East India Company/United East India Company (VOC). The VOC is often considered to be the world's first true multinational corporation (or transnational corporation). It was a pioneering early model of the global corporation and an exemplary historical transcontinental company-state. In many respects, the VOC was possibly in fact the first historical model of the mega-corporation. It was also in fact a proto-conglomerate company rather than a pure trading company or shipping company. Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie spiegelretourschip Amsterdam replica.jpg
Replica of an East Indiaman of the Dutch East India Company/United East India Company (VOC). The VOC is often considered to be the world's first true multinational corporation (or transnational corporation). It was a pioneering early model of the global corporation and an exemplary historical transcontinental company-state. In many respects, the VOC was possibly in fact the first historical model of the mega-corporation. It was also in fact a proto-conglomerate company rather than a pure trading company or shipping company.

Megacorporation, mega-corporation, or megacorp, a term popularized by William Gibson,[ citation needed ] derives from the combination of the prefix mega- with the word corporation . It has become widespread in cyberpunk literature. It refers to a corporation (normally fictional) that is a massive conglomerate (usually private), holding monopolistic or near-monopolistic control over multiple markets (thus exhibiting both a horizontal and a vertical monopoly). Megacorps are so powerful that they can ignore the law, possess their own heavily armed (often military-sized) private armies, be the operator of a privatized police force, hold "sovereign" territory, and even act as outright governments. They often exercise a large degree of control over their employees, taking the idea of "corporate culture" to an extreme. Such organizations as a staple of science fiction long predate cyberpunk, appearing in the works of writers such as Philip K. Dick ( Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? , 1968), Thea von Harbou ( Metropolis , 1927), Robert A. Heinlein ( Citizen of the Galaxy , 1957), Robert Asprin ( The Cold Cash War , 1977), and Andre Norton (the Solar Queen novels). The explicit use of the term in the Traveller science fiction roleplaying game from 1977 predates Gibson's use of it. [12]

William Gibson American-Canadian speculative fiction novelist and founder of the cyberpunk subgenre

William Ford Gibson is an American-Canadian speculative fiction writer and essayist widely credited with pioneering the science fiction subgenre known as cyberpunk. Beginning his writing career in the late 1970s, his early works were noir, near-future stories that explored the effects of technology, cybernetics, and computer networks on humans—a "combination of lowlife and high tech"—and helped to create an iconography for the information age before the ubiquity of the Internet in the 1990s. Gibson notably coined the term "cyberspace" in his short story "Burning Chrome" (1982) and later popularized the concept in his acclaimed debut novel Neuromancer (1984). These early works have been credited with "renovating" science fiction literature.

Mega is a unit prefix in metric systems of units denoting a factor of one million (106 or 1000000). It has the unit symbol M. It was confirmed for use in the International System of Units (SI) in 1960. Mega comes from Ancient Greek: μέγας, translit. megas, lit. 'great'.


Real-life examples

Although the term itself arose out of science fiction,[ citation needed ] certain real-life corporations, such as colonial-era chartered companies and zaibatsu, have achieved or approached megacorporation status in various ways. The private Dutch East India Company, for example, operated 40 warships and had 10,000 private soldiers to monitor its farflung spice empire, while the British East India Company controlled a large colonial empire in the mid-19th century before the company was dissolved and its territories absorbed into the British Empire. The Hudson's Bay Company was once the world's largest landowner, exercising legal control and a trading monopoly on its territory known as Rupert's Land which consisted of 15% of the North American land mass.

Science fiction Genre of speculative fiction

Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction that has been called the "literature of ideas". It typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, time travel, parallel universes, fictional worlds, space exploration, and extraterrestrial life. Science fiction often explores the potential consequences of scientific innovations.

<i>Zaibatsu</i> industrial and financial business conglomerate in the Empire of Japan

Zaibatsu is a Japanese term referring to industrial and financial business conglomerates in the Empire of Japan, whose influence and size allowed control over significant parts of the Japanese economy from the Meiji period until the end of World War II. They were succeeded by the Keiretsu in the second half of the 20th century.

The Dutch East India Company was an early megacorporation founded by a government-directed amalgamation of several rival Dutch trading companies (voorcompagnieën) in the early 17th century. It was established on March 20, 1602 as a chartered company to trade with India and Indianised Southeast Asian countries when the Dutch government granted it a 21-year monopoly on the Dutch spice trade. It has been often labelled a trading company or sometimes a shipping company. However, VOC was in fact a proto-conglomerate company, diversifying into multiple commercial and industrial activities such as international trade, shipbuilding, and both production and trade of East Indian spices, Formosan sugarcane, and South African wine.. The Company was a transcontinental employer and an early pioneer of outward foreign direct investment. The Company's investment projects helped raise the commercial and industrial potential of many underdeveloped or undeveloped regions of the world in the early modern period. In the early 1600s, by widely issuing bonds and shares of stock to the general public, VOC became the world's first formally-listed public company. In other words, it was the first corporation to be listed on an official stock exchange. It was influential in the rise of corporate-led globalisation in the early modern period.

Today many countries have competition laws (also known as antitrust laws) to prevent real-life corporations from having mega-corporation characteristics. On the other hand, some countries protect a certain industry deemed important by mandating that only a single company, usually state owned, can operate in it. An example of the latter is Saudi Arabia, which gains the majority of its government revenues through its mega-corporation Saudi Aramco.

Competition law is a law that promotes or seeks to maintain market competition by regulating anti-competitive conduct by companies. Competition law is implemented through public and private enforcement. Competition law is known as "antitrust law" in the United States for historical reasons, and as "anti-monopoly law" in China and Russia. In previous years it has been known as trade practices law in the United Kingdom and Australia. In the European Union, it is referred to as both antitrust and competition law.

Saudi Arabia Country in Western Asia

Saudi Arabia, officially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is a country in Western Asia constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula. With a land area of approximately 2,150,000 km2 (830,000 sq mi), Saudi Arabia is geographically the largest sovereign state in the Middle East, the second-largest in the Arab world, the fifth-largest in Asia, and the 12th-largest in the world. Saudi Arabia is bordered by Jordan and Iraq to the north, Kuwait to the northeast, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates to the east, Oman to the southeast and Yemen to the south; it is separated from Israel and Egypt by the Gulf of Aqaba. It is the only nation with both a Red Sea coast and a Persian Gulf coast, and most of its terrain consists of arid desert, lowland and mountains. As of October 2018, the Saudi economy was the largest in the Middle East and the 18th largest in the world. Saudi Arabia also enjoys one of the world's youngest populations; 50% of its 33.4 million people are under 25 years old.

Saudi Aramco Saudi Arabian petroleum and natural gas company

Saudi Aramco, officially the Saudi Arabian Oil Company,, is a Saudi Arabian national petroleum and natural gas company based in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

See also

Company town place where practically all stores and housing are owned by the one company that is also the main employer

A company town is a place where practically all stores and housing are owned by the one company that is also the main employer. Company towns are often planned with a suite of amenities such as stores, churches, schools, markets and recreation facilities. They are usually bigger than a model village.

A corporate republic is a theoretical form of government run primarily like a business, involving a board of directors and executives, in which all aspects of society are privatized by a single, or small groups of companies. The ultimate goal of this state is to increase the wealth of its shareholders, and the government acknowledges its status as a corporation. Utilities, including hospitals, schools, the military, and the police force, would be privatized. The social welfare function carried out by the state is instead carried out by corporations in the form of pensions and benefits to employees.

Corporate warfare refers to attacks on individuals or companies by other individuals or companies. Such warfare may be part of economic warfare and cyberwarfare.

Related Research Articles

Corporation Separate legal entity that has been incorporated through a legislative or registration process established through legislation

A corporation is an organization, usually a group of people or a company, authorized to act as a single entity and recognized as such in law. Early incorporated entities were established by charter. Most jurisdictions now allow the creation of new corporations through registration.

Monopoly Market structure with a single firm dominating the market

A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity. This contrasts with a monopsony which relates to a single entity's control of a market to purchase a good or service, and with oligopoly which consists of a few sellers dominating a market. Monopolies are thus characterized by a lack of economic competition to produce the good or service, a lack of viable substitute goods, and the possibility of a high monopoly price well above the seller's marginal cost that leads to a high monopoly profit. The verb monopolise or monopolize refers to the process by which a company gains the ability to raise prices or exclude competitors. In economics, a monopoly is a single seller. In law, a monopoly is a business entity that has significant market power, that is, the power to charge overly high prices. Although monopolies may be big businesses, size is not a characteristic of a monopoly. A small business may still have the power to raise prices in a small industry.

<i>Cyberpunk 2020</i> role-playing game

Cyberpunk, mainly known by its second edition title Cyberpunk 2020, is a cyberpunk role-playing game written by Mike Pondsmith and published by R. Talsorian Games in 1988. Because of the release in 1990 of the second edition, set in a fictional 2020, the first edition is often now referred to as Cyberpunk 2013, following the fictional year, 2013, in which the game was set when it was first released in 1988. The third edition, published by R. Talsorian Games in 2005, is referred to as Cyberpunk V3.0 and is set further along the same fictional timeline as the former editions, during the 2030s.

French East India Company Defunct French trading company

The French East India Company was a commercial Imperial enterprise, founded in 1664 to compete with the English and Dutch East India companies in the East Indies.

A state-owned enterprise (SOE) is a business enterprise where the government or state has significant control through full, majority, or significant minority ownership. Defining characteristics of SOEs are their distinct legal form and operation in commercial affairs and activities. While they may also have public policy objectives, SOEs should be differentiated from government agencies or state entities established to pursue purely nonfinancial objectives.

Multinational corporation large corporation doing business in many countries

A multinational corporation (MNC) or worldwide enterprise is a corporate organization which owns or controls production of goods or services in at least one country other than its home country. Black's Law Dictionary suggests that a company or group should be considered a multinational corporation if it derives 25% or more of its revenue from out-of-home-country operations. A multinational corporation can also be referred to as a multinational enterprise (MNE), a transnational enterprise (TNE), a transnational corporation (TNC), an international corporation, or a stateless corporation. There are subtle but real differences between these three labels, as well as multinational corporation and worldwide enterprise.

Joint-stock company business entity which is owned by shareholders

A joint-stock company is a business entity in which shares of the company's stock can be bought and sold by shareholders. Each shareholder owns company stock in proportion, evidenced by their shares. Shareholders are able to transfer their shares to others without any effects to the continued existence of the company.

In economics and business ethics, a coercive monopoly is a firm that is able to raise prices, and make production decisions, without risk of competition arising to draw away their customers. A coercive monopoly is not merely a sole supplier of a particular kind of good or service, but it is a monopoly where there is no opportunity to compete with it through means such as price competition, technological or product innovation, or marketing; entry into the field is closed. As a coercive monopoly is securely shielded from possibility of competition, it is able to make pricing and production decisions with the assurance that no competition will arise. It is a case of a non-contestable market. A coercive monopoly has very few incentives to keep prices low and may deliberately price gouge consumers by curtailing production. Also, according to economist Murray Rothbard, "a coercive monopolist will tend to perform his service badly and inefficiently."

Biopunk is a subgenre of science fiction that focuses on biotechnology. It is derived from cyberpunk, but focuses on the implications of biotechnology rather than information technology. Biopunk is concerned with synthetic biology. It is derived of cyberpunk involving bio-hackers, biotech mega-corporations, and oppressive government agencies that manipulate human DNA. Most often keeping with the dark atmosphere of cyberpunk, biopunk generally examines the dark side of genetic engineering and represents the low side of biotechnology.

Corporate capitalism is a term used in social science and economics to describe a capitalist marketplace characterized by the dominance of hierarchical and bureaucratic corporations.

A crown agency was an administrative body of the British Empire, distinct from the Civil Service Commission of Great Britain or the government administration of the national entity in which it operated. These enterprises were overseen from 1833 to 1974 by the Office of the Crown Agents in London, thereafter named the Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administration. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations Ltd became a private Limited company providing development services in 1996.

Megacorpstate is a form of market structure that designs new strategies to systematize the cartel power in the world. This particular market framework consists of oligopolistic interdependent nations-states and multinational corporations, which have established alliance to own majority of the market power. The most prominent organizations within the structure are OPEC and the Seven Sisters that include Exxon, Mobil, Socal, Royal Dutch-Shell, BP, Texaco and Gulf. Regardless of its great influence, Megacorpstate does not have a major recognition in the world. The main reason for its unfamiliarity is its disinclination to characterize itself as a separate market structure.

In economics, a government-granted monopoly and the monopoly to be served under government is a form of coercive monopoly by which a government grants exclusive privilege to a private individual or firm to be the sole provider of a good or service; potential competitors are excluded from the market by law, regulation, or other mechanisms of government enforcement. As a form of coercive monopoly, government-granted monopoly is contrasted with a coercive monopoly or an efficiency monopoly, where there is no competition but it is not forcibly excluded.

An evil corporation is a trope in popular culture that portrays a corporation as ignoring social responsibility in order to make money for its shareholders. According to Angela Allan writing in The Atlantic, the notion is "deeply embedded in the landscape of contemporary culture—populating films, novels, videogames, and more." The science fiction genre served as the initial background to portray corporations in this dystopian light. Evil corporations can be seen to represent the danger of combining capitalism with larger hubris.

<i>Shadowrun</i> role-playing game

Shadowrun is a science fantasy tabletop role-playing game set in a near-future fictional universe in which cybernetics, magic and fantasy creatures co-exist. It combines genres of cyberpunk, urban fantasy and crime, with occasional elements of conspiracy, horror and detective fiction. From its inception in 1989, Shadowrun has remained among the most popular role-playing games. It has spawned a vast franchise that includes a series of novels, a collectible card game, two miniature-based tabletop wargames, and multiple video games.


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