The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Types of companies

This is a list of types of companies, i.e. legal forms such as the corporation.


Public limited liability company or PLC

(also Inc in US)

  • Publicly tradeable shares
  • The owners are not liable for legal actions and debts the company may face
  • Managed by a CEO elected by a Board of Directors (Board), which in turn is elected by the shareholders in scheduled Annual General Meetings.
  • Extraordinary General Meetings can usually be called up if enough share holders deem it necessary for some reason
  • Usually listed in one or many Stock exchanges
  • Rules of stock exchanges define some minimums to capital, cash flow and market value for PLCs to be viable for trading

Limited liability company or LLC

(also Ltd in UK and Inc in US)

General partnership

  • Formed by two or more persons
  • The owners are all liable for legal actions and debts the company may face personally
  • Created by agreement, proof of existence and estoppel.

In General: A form of business entity in which 2 or more co-owners engage in business for profit. For the most part, the partners own the business assets together and are personally liable for business debts.

Sharing Profits: In the absence of a partnership agreement, profits are shared equally amongst the partners. A partnership agreement, however, will usually provide for the manner in which profits and losses are to be shared.

Unlimited Personal Liability for Losses: Each Partner is, jointly and severally, personally liable for debts and taxes of the partnership. For example, if the partnership assets are insufficient to satisfy a creditor's claims, the partners' personal assets are subject to attachment and liquidation to pay the business debts.

Liability for a partner's debts: Each general partner is deemed the agent of the partnership. Therefore, if that partner was apparently carrying on partnership business, all general partners can he held liable for his dealings with third persons.

Liability for a partner's wrongdoing: Each partner may be held jointly and severally liable for a co-partner's wrongdoing or tortious act (e.g. the misapplication of another person's money or property).

Duration: Technically, a partnership terminates upon the death, disability, or withdrawal of any one partner. However, most partnership agreements provide for these types of events with the share of the departed partner being purchased by the remaining partners in the partnership.

Management and Control: In the absence of a partnership agreement, each general partner has an equal right to participate in the management and control of the business. Disagreements in the ordinary course of partnership business are decided by a majority of the partners. Disagreements of extraordinary matters and amendments to the partnership agreement require the consent of all partners

Transferability: Unless otherwise provided in the partnership agreement, no one can become a member of the partnership without the consent of all partners. However, a partner may assign his share of the profits and losses and right to receive distributions ("transferable interest"). Further a partner's judgement creditor may obtain an order charging the partner's "transferable interest" to satisfy a judgment.

Limited partnership

Similar to a general partnership. In the United States, the owners must register under the state laws in order to transact business. A limited partnership has one or more general partners and one or more limited partners. The general partner(s) are each personally liable for the debts of the partnership, and usually hold full managerial control. The limited partner(s) are only liable to the extent of their investment, and usually have little to no say in the daily management of the business.

This type of partnership is most common in the film industry or in types of businesses that focus on a single or limited-term project. They are also useful in "labor-capital" partnerships, where one or more financial backers prefer to contribute money or resources while the other partner performs the actual work.

In most states, a Limited Partnership can elect to become a Limited Liability Limited Partnership (or LLLP). In this arrangement, every partner is liable only for the business debts of the company, and not for acts of malpractice or other wrongdoing done by the other partners in the course of the partnership's business.

Sole proprietorship

One of the simplest type of company is that owned and run by a single person, with or without employees. A proprietor obtains the capital for the firm, is responsible for all the management decisions and is personally liable for legal actions and debts. The owner's liability is unlimited; if the business fails, debtors can call upon his private fortune. The profit he makes belongs to him: it is his salary as well as the interest on his capital (if the firm is making profits).


A co-operative (or co-op) is an organization that is owned and run often for the sole purpose of providing a service to its owner/members. That is, each shareholder receives some service benefit from being a member.

Several types of co-ops exist, including

  • Residential cooperatives; these co-ops are becoming more popular in heavily urbanized areas (such as New York City). Each co-op is responsible for the management of a single residential area, often a large apartment building, or a series of condominiums. In this type, the tenants are also part-owners of the building, and the benefit they receive from ownership is the right to occupy part of the cooperative property. In most cases, membership in the co-op is mandatory for all residents. These organizations are run by a board elected from time to time by the tenants. The board is responsible for the maintenance of the residence as well as interviewing prospective new tenants.
  • Commercial or Industrial Cooperatives; these are business organizations that often center around providing a particular service to its members. They are common among rural communities who need to provide public utility services for the residents. The services include electrical services, water and sewage, sanitation and so on. Farming cooperatives also fit into this category. A farming cooperative organizes its member farmers to provide a common market and collective bargaining for their products.

Theoretically, any organization in which every employee or customer is also a part-owner can qualify as a cooperative. It has been suggested by some economists that this form of ownership can provide a means of unity among employees. A factory cooperative, for example, would mean that every person who works in that factory would have a direct share in the factory's profits. This scenario would look like a Marxist economic model within a capitalist state.

Limited liability partnership


  • This article is adapted from Consumerium under the clauses of GFDL
  • Portions of general partnerships from
Last updated: 09-12-2005 02:39:13