This study analyzes the legal framework imposed on corporations by the imperial Russian Government. It stresses the dual nature of the bureaucracy's policy toward modern capitalist enterprise: encouragement for the sake of economic development, and regimentation in the interest of maintaining autocratic control. By illuminating the political nature of the autocracy's economic agenda, Professor Owen seeks to explain why Russian corporate law became increasingly restrictive toward the end of the imperial period. Attention is also given to the practices of Russian capitalists, whose occasional abuses of corporate power justified restrictive laws in the eyes of officials.
"This important work strikingly enumerates the obstacles to Russia's catching up with Europe in the six decades between the Crimean and First World Wars. Owen uses corporate law to make his point.This is an informative, even important book. Little, too little, has been written about Russian law before the Soviets. Owen's relating the law to economic development provides an insight on late tsarist-Soviet continuity." Albert J. Schmidt, Slavic Review "This excellent study of corporate law and bureaucratic politics draws copiously on the relevant governmental archives and trade associations' records, as well as Owen's statistcal profiles of the 4,439 (!) corporations chartered before 1914...As a substantial contribution to our knowledge of nineteenth-century Russian legal and corporate history, its analyses and intimations are particularly timely in the current period of renewed interest in corporate enterprise in Russia." Walter J. Gleason, Jr., History "This indispensable work provides a new starting point for the further study of tsarist and Soviet economic history. The extensive notes and bibliography alone constitute valuable research aids. And the book is not only relevant for scholars: lest they repeat the errors of their predecessors, Russian government officials should be required to read it immediately." Steven G. Marks, American Historical Review "Owen's work significantly contributes to our understanding of the little-studied areas of law and corporate organization in the Russian Empire." William G. Wagner, Russian Review "...a prime example of careful and thoughtful scholarship...Owen's study should be compulsory reading for all Russian officials caught up in the drafting of 'civilized' legislation for the Russian republic." Paul R. Gregory, Journal of Modern History