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Economy & Manufacturing

Corporations and mega-corporations are spread and diversified throughout the planets and empires. To deal with the massive distances and delays in communications, they tend to have redundant data and power structures at multiple locations. They will have guidelines and structures in place that allow each company branch to work independently toward common goals which may or may not be directly set by the "head office". They are something in between a classic business entity (in the production of products for sale for profit), a government (in their political clout, power, and ability to own planets and armies), and a race (in the common purpose of a huge group of individuals). 

The Success of Corporations
With the advent of cheap, nano-empowered molecular manufacturing, a lot of business emphasis switched away from the importance of building and assembly work by hands and machines. The most important aspects of business became design, innovation, distribution, marketing, and the creation of desirable and personalized product. Through nano-technology and biologically grown technology, bulk manufacturing can be done simply, cheaply, and easily by small organizations and even individuals. "Jobs" switched away from mundane assembly to thought-driven, ingenuity-based tasks. The cost of actual manufacture suddenly becomes much less significant than the cost of maintaining and programming the nano-assemblers and shipping the products to market. More than ever, products must be manufactured in great bulk. They must be cheap and plentiful or of exceptional quality and packed with features targeted to a specific market. Fortunately, because of the sheer number of living beings in the various empires, even a small niche market can consist of billions of individuals.

A corporation's strategy and corporate philosophy's become more important than ever. The ways in which corporations deal with each other, local and galactic governments, and their customer base becomes a critical factor in their growth and success. A variety of successful models have been utilized, from Azatlath's aggressive military-like spread to Zyfinbek Mercantile's decentralized empowerment of her field agents.

Corporate Espionage
It is not only critical for corporations to design and manufacture an appropriate product but it is critical for companies to maintain strict control of their intellectual property, since there are no protections in place between regions and empires to prevent the outright stealing and copying of unguarded designs.

Espionage is widespread and any form of patent or intellectual protection  is unknown and unenforceable. It is almost impossible to keep a technology from spreading and growing. The only special rights and protections a corporation has are by virtue of the standing army they maintain and their ability to disguise, hide, and booby-trap their technologies against prying eyes. 

Most resources are relatively plentiful. Minerals and metals are available on planetary surfaces, on stellar bodies like planets, moons, and asteroids. Because it is so common to find large quantities of resources in a single location, they are often processed on-site. Smaller quantities can be loaded onto factory hauler ships that process the resources on a scheduled route or on the way to the delivery destination.

Processing of raw resources is often a relatively compact process involving molecular manipulation by nanites. Depending on available resources, metals can be disassembled and rearranged on a molecular level. Conversely, required materials can be assembled from simple, plentiful molecules like hydrogen. Both processes, though pretty much taken for granted, actually involve complex programming and oversight by knowledgeable individuals. Large amounts of energy are involved and there is a surprising fatality rate among assembly nanites due to forces like molecular friction and "gravity goo". Spent nanites must be constantly replaced and the level of extraction nanites required to remove assembler carcasses must be monitored and tweaked. The process must be monitored closely throughout its execution to eliminate the natural variations and imperfections introduced. The skill and involvement of the supervising nano-programmers critically affects the final quality of the product.

Traditional Manufacturing
In spite of the obvious advantages of nano-manufacturing, particularly to huge organizations, it has its disadvantages, as well. High energy requirements, the absolute necessity for excellent programmers, and the potential for catastrophic failure on a molecular level make it impractical or undesirable for smaller or less technologically advanced environments. In these environments, the use of assembly-oriented biots or robots and even traditional hand assembly techniques are still in place. In some locales, simpler nano-production techniques may be used to disassemble and assemble basic materials which are then traditionally fabricated into final goods. In other cases, materials may be produced through traditional means, such as boring droids being used in more uncontrollable mining environments to extract materials which are subsequently shipped to stable nano-production environments for conversion to products. Manufacturing is very often affected greatly by the environment it's conducted in and the resources available to the manufacturer.

While nano-manufacturing tends to supply vast, decentralized markets, more traditional manufacturing techniques tend to be used to supply local markets or to provide specialized exports.

Independent Shipping
For some corporations, the maintaining of a fleet of delivery ships is undesirable or financially impractical. These corporations often employ "independent shipping methodologies", while others, like the Flint-Grimaldi corporation, specialize in it as a business almost exclusively.

Corporations or wealthy individuals will purchase commercial vessels and hire independent Captains to run them under the terms of a contract. Shorter, stable runs are generally paid salary per run or daily or weekly wages. Longer or more dangerous runs tend to be paid more generously on a commission basis or at a percentage of profit. Many corporations give captains wide latitude, basically allowing them to run their own business so long as a decent percent profit gets turned. Operating budgets for fuel and repairs are handled per contract, sometimes split, sometimes covered by captain or corporation. Larger corporations will often maintain their own repair stations instead of paying for repairs.

The longest, most dangerous, most rewarding, bottom-of-the-barrel haulers are generally referred to as "boon donkeys", as in "the dumb asses that work in the boonies". Specifically, those who specialize in hauls on the edge of nowhere are referred to as deepjobbers, outhandlers, and deep donkeys. Those who initiate new or unusual runs, particularly through dangerous or unknown territory, are called pointjobbers and pointhaulers. Farhandlers specialize in long runs, of several months or more. "Hole donkeys" are specialized technicians and pilots who deliver and set up remote wormhole generators.