Veblen, a work on American archives: corporate finance and institutionalism
Marion Dieudonné  1@  
1 : Stratégies et Dynamiques Financières - Laboratoire d'Economie de Dauphine  (Sdfi - LEDa)  -  Site web
Université Paris Dauphine - Paris IX
Place du Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny 75775 Paris Cedex 16 -  France

At the end of the 19th century, the first corporate finance textbooks are published. Their intention is to provide to the first management schools an economic explanation and dimension to the great upheavals of the market structure, company's performance, funding modes and business organization taking place at the turn of the century in the United States (Hendrick,1919; Todd,1932; Lillian,1953; Lamoreaux,1988). The aim of this paper is to shed new light on the development of these early corporate finance textbooks, their receipt and the intellectual impact of theorists who taught corporate finance between 1890 and 1950 in view of historical evolution of the market and the company's operation.

The first part is devoted to an historical study of the textbooks democratizing this branch of the economy. We would like to show the institutionalist contribution and his impetus, spurred by Veblen and continued by his contemporaries as regards the analysis of the financial structure and the entrepreneurial function. (Ely, Young & Co,1893,1919; corporate finance handbooks 1890-1950; Norgaard,1981)

In a previous working paper we show that Veblen was a contributor to corporate finance with his writings between 1904 and 1923 through the Q-theory of investment. It seems so interesting to root Veblen in the literature of economics and finance textbooks at the time. He is concerned by the determinants writings of his contemporaries: Corporation Finance Thomas Greene (1897) Trust, Pools and Corporations by William Z. Ripley (1905), Capitalization by W. Hastings Lyon (1912); Economics Business by Arthur B. Norris (1913), or The Financial policy of corporation by Arthur S. Dewing (1919). Moreover, with the publication of the second edition (1908) of Outlines of Economics due to the arrival of Allyn Abbott Young in co-writing, Ely and Co underline the contribution of Veblen to corporate finance in one of the most important hand-book of the time. What was the reception of these works and what intellectual interactions emerged?

In a second part we show the specificity of Veblen who is anchored in an original tradition of thought that is the American institutionalism. It is then to understand, via an archival work - in Columbia (New York), Franklin Roosevelt Archives (Hide Park), Chicago, Carleton College (Northfield) and Madison -, interactions, intellectual relationships (Rutherford, 2011) for R.T. Ely, A.A. Young, T.B. Veblen, W.C. Mitchell, Berle and Means and J. Dorfman. We especially emphasize the growing importance of corporate finance in the papers of this authors. It is then to reconstruct, with an innovative tradition of thought, the birth and spread of corporate finance ideas in academia, and the evolution of the organization and terminology of the internal structure of the firm in the first part of the 20th century.

Thus, in the beginning of the 20th century new corporate organizations are conducive to the emergence of a new economic scientific discipline. Already in Veblen writings – yet not so much reference as a precursor of this theory - there are clear signs of understanding of basics of business finance; intuitions similar to those of theorists of the second half of the 20th century.

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