Megacorporation, mega-corporation, or megacorp, a term originally coined by Alfred Eichner[12] but popularized by William Gibson,[citation needed] derives from the combination of the prefix mega- with the word corporation. It has become widespread in cyberpunk literature. It is synonymous with syndicate, globalist- or transnational capital. It refers to a corporation (normally fictional) that is a massive conglomerate (usually private), holding monopolistic or near-monopolistic control over multiple markets (thus exhibiting both a horizontal and a vertical monopoly). Megacorps are so powerful that they are above the government laws, possess their own heavily armed (often military-sized) private armies, be the operator of a privatized police force, hold "sovereign" territory, and even act as outright governments. They often exercise a large degree of control over their employees, taking the idea of "corporate culture" to an extreme. Such organizations as a staple of science fiction long predate cyberpunk, appearing in the works of writers such as Philip K. Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, 1968), Thea von Harbou (Metropolis, 1927), Robert A. Heinlein (Citizen of the Galaxy, 1957), Robert Asprin (The Cold Cash War, 1977), and Andre Norton (the Solar Queen novels). The explicit use of the term in the Traveller science fiction roleplaying game from 1977 predates Gibson's use of it.[13]

Replica of an East Indiaman of the Dutch East India Company/United East India Company (VOC). The VOC is often considered to be the world's first true multinational corporation (or transnational corporation). It was a pioneering early model of the global corporation[1][2] and an exemplary historical transcontinental company-state.[3] In many respects, the VOC was possibly in fact the first historical model of the mega-corporation.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11] It was also in fact a proto-conglomerate company rather than a pure trading company or shipping company.

Real-life examplesEdit

Although the term itself arose out of science fiction,[citation needed] certain real-life corporations, such as colonial-era chartered companies and zaibatsu, have achieved or approached megacorporation status in various ways. The private Dutch East India Company, for example, operated 40 warships and had 10,000 private soldiers to monitor its farflung spice empire, while the British East India Company controlled a large colonial empire and maintained a 300,000 strong standing army in the mid-19th century before the company was dissolved and its territories absorbed into the British Empire. The Hudson's Bay Company was once the world's largest landowner, exercising legal control and a trading monopoly on its territory known as Rupert's Land which consisted of 15% of the North American land mass.

Today many countries have competition laws (also known as antitrust laws) to prevent real-life corporations from having mega-corporation characteristics. On the other hand, some countries protect a certain industry deemed important by mandating that only a single company, usually state-owned, can operate in it. An example of the latter is Saudi Arabia, which gains the majority of its government revenues through its mega-corporation Saudi Aramco.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Bown, Stephen R.: Merchant Kings: When Companies Ruled the World, 1600–1900. (Thomas Dunne Books, 2009, ISBN 978-0312616113), p. 16
  2. ^ Capra, Fritjof; Mattei, Ugo: The Ecology of Law: Toward a Legal System in Tune with Nature and Community. (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2015, ISBN 978-1626562066), p. 63
  3. ^ Weststeijn, Arthur (2014), 'The VOC as a Company-State: Debating Seventeenth-Century Dutch Colonial Expansion,'. Itinerario 38(1): 13–34. doi:10.1017/S0165115314000035
  4. ^ Sayle, Murray (5 Apr 2001). "Japan goes Dutch". London Review of Books, Vol. 23 No. 7. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  5. ^ Ames, Glenn J. (2008). The Globe Encompassed: The Age of European Discovery, 1500–1700. pp. 102–103.
  6. ^ Brook, Timothy: Vermeer's Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World. (Bloomsbury Press, 2008, pp. 288, ISBN 978-1596915992)
  7. ^ Hanft, Adam (23 May 2010). "Google Is the New "CorporNation" - Half Company, Half Virtual Government". Retrieved 23 May 2018. Adam Hanft: "A CorporNation's vast global influence enables it to function simultaneously in two realms: a for-profit company, and as a force that can shape the geopolitical landscape."
  8. ^ Phelan, Ben (7 Jan 2013). "Dutch East India Company: The World's First Multinational". Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  9. ^ Taylor, Bryan (6 Nov 2013). "The Rise and Fall of the Largest Corporation in History". Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  10. ^ Grenville, Stephen (3 November 2017). "The first global supply chain". Lowy Institute. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  11. ^ Desjardins, Jeff (12 December 2017). "How today's tech giants compare to the massive companies of empires past". Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  12. ^ "Mega-Corp". TV Tropes.
  13. ^ "Library Data (A-M) - Traveller". Traveller RPG Wiki. Retrieved 12 June 2017.