Limited Liability Company

Nicholas Murray Butler was one of the great thinkers of his age: philosopher; Nobel Peace Prize-winner; president of Columbia University. When in 1911 Butler was asked to name the most important innovation of the industrial era, his answer was somewhat surprising. “The greatest single discovery of modern times,” he said, “is the limited liability corporation”. Tim Harford explains why Nicholas Murray Butler might well have been right.

Producer: Ben Crighton
Editors: Richard Knight and Richard Vadon

(Image: LLC. Credit: Getty Images)

Release date:

Available now

9 minutes

Last on

Mon 24 Jul 2017 03:50 GMT
BBC World Service Online, UK DAB/Freeview only

Sources and related links

David A. Moss - When all else fails: Government as the ultimate risk manager, Harvard University Press, 2002

Adam Smith - An inquiry in to the nature and causes of the wealth of the nations, 1776

Randal Morck - 'Corporations' in New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2008 Vol 2, pp265 - 268

Joel Bakan - The Corporation: The pathological pursuit of profit and power, Penguin Books Canada, 2004

The Key to Industrial Capitalism: Limited Liability - The Economist

John Kay - "The Role of Business in Society"

The Company that Ruled the Waves

Kelly Edmiston - The role of small and large businesses in economic development, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Economic Review, Q2 2007

Most Americans say US economic system is unfair, but high-income Republican disagree

Business in America - Too much of a good thing