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29 January 2010 @ 01:01 pm
Megacorporations  
On the same topic as last week shelleycat and i were discussing something about corporations and megacorps, during which we realized we didn't know what the exact definition of a megacrop is. wikipedia knew of course.

In short, it's a "massive" company that has both horizontal and vertical monopolies (controls most of the aspects of production of a lot of different things,) is so powerful that it either controls or can ignore the law, and has sovereign territory and its own standing army.

For those who haven't checked the long version already, it turns out there was in fact one real life example. The Dutch East India Company, which was actually a subset of the East India Company that i was comparing to the East India Trading Company. The aspects of the Dutch East India Company that make it a megacorp are the same elements that made it a perfect model for the fictional version. It's kind of ironic that the term megacorp was popularized by the cyberpunk genre, but the only definite real world example existing hundreds of years before the genre.

Surprisingly, the only modern company to come close to being a megacorp, according to wikipedia anyways, is Disney. It turns out that Disney _is_ the government of the Reedy Creek Improvement District in Florida. All Disney needs now is a standing army...

I do kind of wonder about some of the oil companies though, given what i've heard about their actions in third world countries. Do they not count as megacrops because they don't have much of a horizontal monopoly? Or does hiring mercenaries to terrorize and kill people who get in your way not count as a standing army? Or do you only count as a megacrop when you can pull off that kind of thing in more developed countries?
 
 
 
Coraa: jenova your momcoraa on January 29th, 2010 09:09 pm (UTC)
Which raises the interesting question of which of the evil corps on your list are genuine megacorps. CHOAM is, if I remember correctly. Shinra, definitely. Cyberdyne was after the AI takeover (if you still count it as a corporation after that point, which is debatable), but not before, IIRC. East India Trading Company, yes. The others either aren't, or I don't know the source well enough to say.

Edited at 2010-01-29 09:09 pm (UTC)
DonAithnendonaithnen on January 29th, 2010 10:36 pm (UTC)
Oohh, good idea! I should go back and take a look at the list again in that regard.

As far as CHOAM, i can't remember if they have an actual army. However when the primary goal of politics is to get positions in CHOAM, and thus the company can effectively use the government's military for whatever it wants, i'm not sure if that's an important distinction in this case.
Steuardsteuard on January 29th, 2010 09:41 pm (UTC)
All Disney needs now is a standing army...

Fool! Naive fool! Have you never heard of the Mouseketeers?
DonAithnendonaithnen on January 31st, 2010 12:12 pm (UTC)
Up until now i wasn't aware that they were armed. Now i'm _really_ worried :)
Andrewneonelephant on January 30th, 2010 07:29 am (UTC)
Hiring mercenaries is one step behind having an actual standing army. Adding the army to the corporation is a sign that (much like having one's own legal department) a) they're big enough to support it, and b) they have need of those services frequently enough that there's some cost savings involved in having the troops in-house rather than trying to keep them on permanent retainer.

There are also small issues of loyalty that in theory would be better with a standing army; mercenary companies might in theory allow themselves to be bought away from you wholesale, with potentially embarrassing consequences.
DonAithnendonaithnen on January 31st, 2010 12:13 pm (UTC)
I've heard it suggested, i'm not sure with how much actual knowledge, that once a company has a legal department they're much more inclined to go out and look for things to sue people for, because otherwise they've got a bunch of lawyers sitting around on their asses and getting paid for nothing.

That presents a kind of scary corollary for the case of a company with a standing army =P
Kirin: Zaku-dangerkirinn on January 30th, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
Along the same lines as the big oil companies, one could consider some of the Japanese Zaibatsu in their heyday. Horizontal and vertical monopolies were a defining characteristic of the biggest manufacturing concerns, as I understand it, and they were at least suspected of some of the same sort of very heavy-handed third-world dealings as well. A common theory is that Genom was inspired as much by Mitsubishi as by Tyrell Corp.

Speaking of which, that reminds me of another addition to your list: Mishima Zaibatsu (from Tekken). In addition to being a huge conglomerate with their hands in everything, they've had a more-or-less standing army for ages now, and in the latest game more or less declared war on most of the rest of the world. The G Corporation, which frequently opposes them, might also qualify.
DonAithnendonaithnen on January 31st, 2010 12:15 pm (UTC)
The G Corporation might qualify as a magacorp? Or as an evil corporation? (Of both?)
Kirin: akukirinn on January 31st, 2010 04:16 pm (UTC)
Maybe both? I dunno. They do seem to have their own standing "security" forces, though probably on a smaller scale than Mishima Zaibatsu. And they have their hands in lots of industries, though they seem to specialize in genetics and robotics. Most of the time we hear about them doing something evil, it's because Kazuya has been pulling their strings and using them in the multi-generational Mishima family feud.