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The Origins of Business, Money, and Markets$
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Keith Roberts

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231153270

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231153270.001.0001

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The Early Roman Republic

The Early Roman Republic

(p.139) 8 The Early Roman Republic
The Origins of Business, Money, and Markets

Keith Roberts

Columbia University Press

This chapter discusses the rise of Rome to dominance throughout Italy and its first victory over Carthage. It explains patronage, describes the origin of corporations, and traces the development of the most novel and important Roman businesses: agribusiness and public contracting. For most of the city-state's first five centuries, business hardly existed; then, as Rome fought Carthage for dominance in the western Mediterranean, Roman business got its start supplying the war effort. From these wars, agribusiness emerged, its management the model for all Roman businesses. The unusual nature of Roman business sprang from three features of Roman culture. One was patronage, a set of behaviors and understandings that underlay the remarkable entrepreneurship, scope, and scale that Roman businesses achieved. The second was the extensive use of public contractors to do the state's work, thereby channeling much of Rome's growing imperial bounty into the hands of business financiers and managers. The need for them to be large and enduring enterprises led to the third distinctive feature: Roman law's creation of the corporate form for such contractors.

Keywords:   Rome, Carthage, business, agribusiness, public contracting, corporations, patronage, Roman culture

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