Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Geography & Environmental Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Alfred Hecht

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


An interlocking directorate is created when an individual sits on the board of directors of two, or more, corporations simultaneously. One of the assumed functions of the interlocking directorate is that it provides the corporation with information on external markets. By analyzing the boards of directors of the European Union’s largest corporations for 1986 and 1992 one can test for the assumption that there should be increased interlocking directorates over the same time period. As is well known, in the last decade the European Union moved toward greater economic integration between member countries. It was expected that as member countries integrate more of their activities, corporations will also more clearly link their operations. One of many methods through which increasing corporate integration may occur is with the creation of the interlocking directorate. By determining the number of interlocking directorates within and between countries it is possible to determine the degree of change between 1986 and 1992. It is also possible to determine what cities are more prominent as centres for interlocking directorate activity. By including other corporate data it is possible to determine if corporations of different size in distinct geographic locations experience similar rates of formation with interlocking directorates. In order to answer these questions the directors of the top 534 corporations, by annual turnover, in 1986 and 1992 were examined, together with their country and city of corporate headquarters, number of employees and industrial group. It was found that interlocking directorates in the European Union have experienced a substantial increase between 1986 and 1992. However, it was also found that there was a significant spatial variation in interlocking directorate formation within and between member countries of the European Union. The frequency of interlocking directorates was, in part, determined by the number of corporations that were headquartered in France, Germany and the UK. Conversely, cross-border interlocking directorates were more frequent in those corporations headquartered in Belgium and The Netherlands. When determining interlocking directorates within and between cities a major city emerged in most countries. However, it appears that between 1986 and 1992 a dispersal of activity has occurred from the major cities to the smaller ones. Major cities also evolve for cross-border interlocking directorates in the same time period. Lastly, the size of corporation appears to play a role in the rate of formation of interlocking directorates. However, the incidence varies slightly between countries in the European Union. These findings would lend support to the hypothesis that corporations in the European Union area integrating more of their business activities.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season