those large state holdings remained aggregates of many different and formerly
independent units, brought together following a logic which was more political
than economic. No attempt was ever made, however, during that period to
rationalize those aggregates and to reorganize them internally ( Romano, 1977).
By way of conclusion, let us repeat once more that in 1939, French, German,
and Italian systems of industrial production were more similar to each other
than to the corporate model then characteristic of the USA. For all three
countries, albeit to a different extent in each case, the period of the war would
represent a rupture and the years immediately following the war would prove
to be critical. Prewar economic, social, and political arrangements were then
questioned, albeit more or less radically, in each of these three countries. When
change was considered, choices as to its direction were made quite rapidly. A
number of institutional, political, and geopolitical developments turned out to
have a significant impact on those processes in each of the three countries.
Between 1926 and 1944, around 20,000 new SARL were registered in France but
only 3,000 SA and 3,000 partnerships, société en nom collectif or SNC ( Caron, 1981: 215).
French holdings were thus peculiar business groups. Standing, with respect to
formality, somewhere in between American cartels and American trusts, they had,
in spite of the name, nothing in common with the American holding company.
Ehrmann ( 1957: 370) and
Paxton ( 1973). Getting more precise figures is naturally
impossible since those agreements were neither legal nor official.
Clough ( 1946),
Lévy-Leboyer ( 1974),
Roehl ( 1976),
Keyder ( 1978), Cameron and
Freedeman ( 1983),
Nye ( 1987).
By the 1860s, the French railway network reached down to the remotest parts of the
Chandler ( 1977) has argued that the expansion and integration of markets depended to a significant extent on the development of a dense
Girard ( 1952), 'traditional financial interests got rid of the Péreire
brothers. This fall had long been sought after. . . . It was essentially a revenge of the
forces of order and of well entrenched interests.' See also
Landes ( 1949) and
French literature abounds in paintings of downfall and social disgrace following
bankruptcies--see in particular Honoré de Balzac's César Birotteau. The conception
of bankruptcy as a stain on family honor differed markedly from the American
Duhamel ( 1930) underscored this contrast: 'You [French businessmen]
still think about César Birotteau. Yes, but the sense of honor changes very rapidly.
When Smith [American businessman] goes bankrupt, he is not dishonored. He will
just start all over again. . . .'
In the period before the First World War, close to 80 per cent of total investments had
been self-financed and self-financing remained predominant in the interwar period
Landes, 1949, 1964;