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"Megacorporation" is a term popularized by William Gibson derived from the combination of the prefix mega- with the word corporation. It has become a term popularly used in cyberpunk literature. It refers to a fictional corporation that is a massive conglomerate, holding monopolistic or near-monopolistic control over multiple markets (thus exhibiting both a horizontal and a vertical monopoly). Megacorps are so powerful that they can ignore the law, possess their own heavily-armed (often military-sized) private armies, hold 'sovereign' territory, and possibly 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 are a staple of science fiction long predating cyberpunk, appearing in the works of writers such as Thea von Harbou (Metropolis), Robert A. Heinlein (Citizen of the Galaxy), Robert Asprin (The Cold Cash War) and Andre Norton (the Solar Queen novels).

Almost all depictions of a megacorporation show them as amoral(driven purely by a desire for profit, without thought for morals). No corporation in the world currently meets the criteria to be considered a true megacorporation, and thus the concept remains contained in the realm of speculative fiction.

Real-life examples

While Walt Disney does not currently have a standing army, it is one of the few multinational corporations to achieve a large degree of self-governmental control, in the Floridamarker region known as the Reedy Creek Improvement Districtmarker. Within this district, the Disney corporation has the legal authority to establish its own building codes, power plants and utilities, fire departments, and to seize land outside the district under eminent domain. The corporation protects itself from outside interference by permitting only Disney employees to own land within the district, keeping voting power to elect district managers (also Disney employees) within company control, and thereby preventing restriction on company actions and projects within the district.

The Dutch East India Company may be a historical example of a megacorporation due to the company's possession of certain quasi-governmental powers, including the ability to wage war, negotiate treaties, coin money, and establish colonies.

Other examples could be Microsoft or Google.

See also

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