The relationship between ownership and control of distant ventures has been a major topic in business history. This relationship prompted the creation of a specific organizational form, the freestanding company, particularly active in international business before World War I. The freestanding form and railway companies such as Companhia Real share the common characteristic of being stand-alone firms based on foreign direct investment (FDI), but their legal ownership and management strategy were different. The freestanding companies offshored legal ownership; Companhia Real offshored top management since it was incorporated in the country hosting FDI. This business configuration was usual in French investments across European peripheral countries. This article introduces a new concept into the current international business literature, emphasizing the polymorphous character of foreign investment before World War I.
- FREESTANDING COMPANY