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Part of the series on
Corporate Players

Board of Directors

Business Forms

Sole Proprietorship
Closely-Held Corp.

Economic Concepts

Agency Cost
Mergers & Acquisitions
Transaction Cost
Horizontal Integration
Vertical Integration

A Corporation is a type of company formed for the purpose of doing business.


The distinguishing feature of a corporation is that it is a separate legal entity from its owners. It has legal rights and obligations and is taxed on its earnings. When one sues a corporation, it is the business corporation, not its shareholders, that is party to the suit.


Corporations first arose, in a widespread manner, during the Industrial Revolution, when industrialization expanded the possibilities for private enterprise. Many corporations are still engaged in heavy industries such as refining and steel. The modern world is now dominated by many multinational corporations which are involved in diverse industries.

However, the early corporation (dating to the 1600s) was wholly a "creature of state" - they had to be specially created by legislative act. Now, corporations may incorporate with ease, owing to enabling acts in all American states, but especially in Delaware

Types of Corporations

There are many different types of corporations in the United States and throughout the world. In the USA, the two major types of corporations are 'C' Corporations and 'S' Corporations. These names are derived from the tax code. 'C' corporations are traditional corporations with few restrictions on number of shareholders, ownership of or by other corporations and where they do business. 'S' corporations are, from a tax point of view, proprietorships or partnerships, but are allowed to incorporate to provide a legal separation between the owner and the business.

Additionally, an M-form firm is a conglomerate, which means an aggregation of corporations from different business perspectives, integrated vertically or horizontally.

See also