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Corporation vs. Conglomerate: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 8, 2023
A corporation is a single legal entity owned by shareholders, while a conglomerate is a large corporation composed of diverse companies.

Key Differences

A corporation is an individual legal entity, distinct from its owners, who are shareholders; it can enter contracts, sue, and be sued. A conglomerate, on the other hand, refers to a large business entity formed when one corporation owns a controlling stake in smaller companies, which may operate in unrelated business sectors.
Corporations issue shares to raise capital and distribute profits to shareholders in the form of dividends. Conglomerates, however, consolidate multiple businesses under one corporate group, which allows for risk distribution across various industries and can lead to economies of scale.
The structure of a corporation is such that it has a board of directors, officers, and employees, with each group having distinct roles and responsibilities. In contrast, a conglomerate is structured as a group of companies that are either partially or wholly owned by the parent corporation, each potentially having its own set of directors and management.
Corporations focus on their specific industry or market sector, striving for market share within their niche. Conglomerates diversify their interests to reduce reliance on any single market or industry, drawing revenue from multiple sources.
Regulations for corporations revolve around their operations, reporting, and transparency to shareholders. For conglomerates, regulations also include managing relationships between the parent company and its subsidiaries to prevent conflicts of interest and monopolistic practices.

Comparison Chart


A single legal entity owned by shareholders
A large corporation composed of many smaller companies


To operate and compete within a specific industry
To manage a portfolio of diverse investments across various sectors


Board of directors, officers, employees
Parent company with multiple subsidiary companies


Concentrated in its industry
Distributed across different industries

Revenue Source

Single industry or sector
Multiple industries and sectors

Corporation and Conglomerate Definitions


An entity that can own property, pay taxes, make contracts, and be held legally liable.
The corporation expanded its operations overseas to increase profits.


An entity that produces a wide range of goods or offers a variety of services.
The conglomerate's wide range of products insulated it from industry-specific downturns.


A business organization that is owned by shareholders who have limited liability.
She invested heavily in the corporation and received regular dividends.


A corporation made up of a number of different companies that operate in diversified fields.
The conglomerate owns companies in the technology, healthcare, and retail sectors.


A company chartered by the state and given many of the legal rights as a separate entity.
The corporation was chartered in Delaware for its business-friendly laws.


A parent company that owns enough voting stock in another company to control management and operations.
The conglomerate acquired another small firm to enter the renewable energy market.


A legal entity that is separate and distinct from its owners.
The corporation was sued, but its shareholders were not personally liable.


A large business group, consisting of distinct firms, each acting in different business markets.
The conglomerate was structured to prevent financial risk by diversifying its portfolio.


A group organized to perform business activities.
The corporation launched a new product line to capture a younger market.


A large company formed by the merging of separate and diverse firms.
The conglomerate was known for its aggressive strategy in acquiring start-up companies.


An entity such as a business, municipality, or organization, that involves more than one person but that has met the legal requirements to operate as a single person, so that it may enter into contracts and engage in transactions under its own identity.


To form or gather into a mass or whole.


Such a body created for purposes of government. Also called body corporate.


To form into or merge with a corporate conglomerate.


What is the main advantage of a corporation?

Limited liability for its shareholders.

What is the main advantage of a conglomerate?

Diversification of business risk.

What defines a corporation?

A legally independent business entity owned by shareholders.

What is a conglomerate discount?

The phenomenon where a conglomerate's market value is less than the sum of its parts.

Can a corporation become a conglomerate?

Yes, if it grows to acquire or establish subsidiaries in different sectors.

Can a corporation issue bonds?

Yes, corporations can issue bonds to raise funds.

Do conglomerates operate internationally?

Many conglomerates do operate on a global scale.

Are corporations taxed?

Yes, corporations pay taxes on their profits.

Who manages a conglomerate?

Centralized management at the parent company and management teams at each subsidiary.

What defines a conglomerate?

A large corporation that owns multiple smaller companies in various industries.

How is a corporation formed?

Through registration with state authorities and issuance of stock.

Can anyone buy shares in a corporation?

Shares of public corporations can be bought by the general public.

Who manages a corporation?

A board of directors elected by the shareholders.

What is corporate governance?

The system of rules, practices, and processes by which a corporation is directed.

How do conglomerates handle taxes?

They are subject to complex tax regulations that govern corporate groups.

What’s the difference in liability between a corporation and a conglomerate?

Both offer limited liability, but conglomerates also spread risk across diverse businesses.

How is a conglomerate formed?

Through mergers, acquisitions, or organic growth into different industries.

Can conglomerates have a focus area?

While diverse, some conglomerates may focus on a broad sector like technology or industry.

What is a subsidiary?

A company that is controlled by another company, typically a conglomerate.

How does a conglomerate benefit its subsidiaries?

By providing resources, capital, and sometimes shared services.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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