This article proposes a classification of capitalist forms on the basis of two concepts,
'property rights regimes' (PRRs) and 'accumulation governance structures' (AGSs).
The former defines the way in which the ownership of wealth and surplus value is
distributed, the latter the institutional systems governing the uses of surplus value
to sustain accumulation. Three PRRs-'concentrated private property', 'diffused private
property' and 'state property'-and four AGSs-'goods markets', 'companies markets',
'external hierarchies' and 'internal hierarchies'-are defined. Various historical
forms of capitalism are described as resulting from particular combinations of PRRs
and AGSs. Then a few ideal types are outlined: 'classical capitalism', 'market-oriented
corporate capitalism' and 'bank-oriented corporate capitalism'. Finally a hypothesis
is advanced as to how capitalism evolves, namely that historical transformations
of PRRs and AGSs tend to pave the way for the emergence of 'autonomous capital':
accumulation is controlled through complex systems of external hierarchies among
firms; the large concerns which are in command of these hierarchical structures are
collectively self-owned and formally controlled by their managers through strategic
cross-shareholding; no external shareholder exerts effective control.