Religion, organization and company law – a case study of a Quaker business

Burton, Nicholas, Kavanagh, Donncha and Brigham, Martin (2019) Religion, organization and company law – a case study of a Quaker business. Management & Organizational History, 14 (4). pp. 317-336. ISSN 1744-9359

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This paper examines the effect of changes in corporate law in the mid-nineteenth century – incorporation and limited liability – on the ownership, control and socio-economic objectives of a Quaker family firm between 1841 and 1972. The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) were well-known for adhering to internalized quasi-legal rules and self-governance, and had a strong reputation, which persists today, for trust, integrity and honesty in all business dealings. We read existing archival research on Quaker firm Huntley & Palmer (the biscuit manufacturer) against the grain to trace how incorporation and limited liability fundamentally changed its capital structure and the family’s control of the firm and which, in turn, led to a gradual weakening of its social ambitions. We argue that changes to the law are akin to changing the rules of the game within which players’ play, and we show how Quaker quasi-legal rules became subordinate to corporate law resulting in unexpected and non-trivial impacts that play out over long, longitudinal periods of time.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: corporate law, family business, Quakers: religion, socio-economic wealth
Subjects: N100 Business studies
N200 Management studies
V300 History by topic
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2019 11:57
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 16:04

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