Distribution and Vertical Control

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Modern distribution systems in American business developed in the first half of the twentieth century, largely in spite of rather than because of the legal regime. No broad consensus about the economic effects of vertical integration had been developed, and economic opinion varied widely, from harmful and monopolistic to harmless and efficient. One consequence is that the law of vertical integration became highly vulnerable to interest group pressure, mainly from independent small business and franchise dealers. Without a robust economic theory, much of the legal policy was driven by traditional common law concerns such as restraints on alienation. This hostility did not noticeably abate in federal law until the 1970s and after.


vertical integration, monopolistic, restraints on alienation, distribution systems, franchise

Publication Title

The Opening of American Law: Neoclassical Legal Thought, 1870-1970