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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

"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 Robert A. Heinlein (Citizen of the Galaxy), Robert Asprin (The Cold Cash War) and Andre Norton (the Solar Queen novels).

It is generally felt that no real megacorps currently exist in the real world. Even the largest multinational corporations (MNCs) do not possess anywhere near the same level of direct power as is seen in the megacorps of cyberpunk literature. The South Korean chaebols and the Japanese Zaibatsu, it may be argued, come closest to fitting the role of megacorps in today's world, at least on a national level. In Nigeria, multinational oil companies are heavily intermingled with the local police, who act as their corporate security forces.[1] Historically, there were similarities between megacorps and the large trading companies of the 17th and 18th century mercantilist period, such as the Dutch East India Company, as well as resource exporting companies such as United Fruit, which effectively controlled several Central American governments up through the 1960s.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Megacorporation" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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