"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 corporation (normally fictional) 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 Philip K. Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), Thea von Harbou (Metropolis), Robert A. Heinlein (Citizen of the Galaxy), Robert Asprin (The Cold Cash War) and Andre Norton (the Solar Queen novels).
No corporations in the world currently meet the criteria to be considered true megacorporations due to antitrust laws, so the concept remains contained in the realm of speculative fiction.
Although the term itself arose out of science fiction, certain real-life corporations, such as colonial-era chartered companies and zaibatsu, have achieved or approached megacorporation status in various ways. The private Dutch East India Company, for example, operated 40 warships and had 10,000 private soldiers to monitor its farflung spice empire, while the British East India Company had the largest colonial empire in the mid-19th Century before it was nationalized.
However, today many countries in the world have competition laws (or antitrust laws) to prevent companies of achieving megacorporation characteristics.
- Corporate republic
- Evil corporation
- List of largest corporations