From a post to DAVIDWEBER.NET forums on 6/19/2011

Corporate-form governments

    Most of the corporate-form governments in the Honorverse are not coporations in the sense of businesses. The colonies themselves, more often than not, were organized as non-profit corporations before they ever set out (as witness the Manticore Colony, Ltd.) and took their board of directors to their new home with them. The Board became the government, retaining most of the forms and procedures of the original corporation but transitioning into the "ultimate non-profit corporation," otherwise known as a government. In the case of the SKM, the original form of government was completely overhauled as a result of the Plague Years and the original colonists' (and their descendants') determination to retain political control of their new star nation in the face of the huge influx of newcomers. In the case of Beowulf, the government was never changed from its original form. The primary difference between Beowulf and traditional cabinet-style parliamentary governments lies less in its internal dynamics and functions than in the basis of representation. Beowulf divides its social groupings on the basis of profession and education rather than on a geographical basis. The governmental terminology is different (the executive branch of the government is called the Planetary Board of Directors, headed by the Beowulf CEO, rather than the Planetary Cabinet, headed by a Prime Minister). I have to agree that planetary government is not the sort of activity which is going to attract a profit-making corporation, and I only have one planet which you guys have seen actually organized on such a basis. I would argue, however, that a planet very well could be run as a "company town" on the grand scale. Government becomes non-profitable primarily when the government in question begins thinking in terms of its responsibilities to is citizens rather than in terms of the profits to be squeezed out of its subjects. I would suspect that any high-tech society is going to trend towards representative government in one form or another, but that could be our own culture-centric biases.