Merchants to Multinationals: British Trading Companies in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

Paperback | February 1, 2002

byGeoffrey Jones

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Merchants to Multinationals examines the evolution of multinational trading companies from the eighteenth century to the present day. During the Industrial Revolution, British merchants established overseas branches which became major trade intermediaries and subsequently engaged in foreigndirect investment. Complex multinational business groups emerged controlling large investments in natural resources, processing, and services in Asia, Latin America, and Africa.While theories of the firm predict the demise over time of merchant firms, this book identifies the continued resilience of British trading companies despite the changing political and business environments of the twentieth century. Like Japanese trading companies, they 're-invented' themselves insuccessive generations. The competences of the trading companies resided in their information-gathering, relationship-building, human resource, and corporate governance systems. This book provides a new dimension to the literature on international business through the focus on multinational servicefirms and its evolutionary approach based on confidential business records.

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From the Publisher

Merchants to Multinationals examines the evolution of multinational trading companies from the eighteenth century to the present day. During the Industrial Revolution, British merchants established overseas branches which became major trade intermediaries and subsequently engaged in foreigndirect investment. Complex multinational busin...

Joseph C. Wilson Professor of Business Administration, Entrepreneurial Management Unit, Harvard Business School. He previously taught at the universities of Cambridge and Reading, and at the London School of Economics, in the U.K. He is the author and editor of many books and articles on the history of international business, includi...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:414 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.87 inPublished:February 1, 2002Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199249997

ISBN - 13:9780199249992

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Table of Contents

1. Trading Companies in Theory and History2. Foundations3. From Trade to Investment4. Trading in Crisis5. Concentration and Diversification6. Business Groups7. Governance and Human Resources8. External Relationships9. Natural Resources10. Traders as Manufacturers11. End Game12. ConclusionAppendix 1. Post-tax return on net capital employed of selected British trading companies, 1895-1998Appendix 2. Pre-tax return on net capital employed of selected British trading companies, 1948-1998Appendix 3. Sources for calculations on capital employed of British trading companies

Editorial Reviews

`This book is original and subtle, careful to pick up nuances, and to delineate properly its topic. It is a major accomplishment. Jones is ready to generalize and to theorize, but he does not oversimplify. The book will set the reader reflecting on British economic development and theBritish role in the global economy. It is essential reading for every economic and business historian interested in the history of multinational enterprise, in British economic history, and also in where British business fits in the evolution of the world economy.'Mira Wilkins, EH.NET