Business History Bleg: British Trading Houses

22 June 2008 at 10:35 pm 6 comments

| Peter Klein |

I’m advising a PhD student in sociology (yes, it’s true) who’s studying the rise of British commercial influence in the Far East. He’s particularly interested in Jardine Matheson & Company, a Hong Kong trading company founded in 1832 that grew quickly into a pre-modern industrial conglomerate. Can anyone recommend references on the organization and strategy of 19th-century trading firms, their political, social, and cultural activities and influence, and their role in trade and economic growth more broadly?

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Business/Economic History, New Institutional Economics, Strategic Management.

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Brian Pitt  |  23 June 2008 at 6:55 am

    Good work Dr. Klein,

    Your student may wish to look over the work of Victor Nee (Center for the Study of Economy and Society) at Cornell. As far as I know, he is the foremost scholar on Japanese political, cultural, and economic development.

  • 2. Dave  |  23 June 2008 at 10:31 am

    Do you know The Taipans: Hong Kong’s Merchant Princes
    by Colin Crisswell. Also, I think G. Jones has written on this, but I don’t have the references to hand.

  • 3. Harry  |  23 June 2008 at 11:00 am

    Some time ago, an episode in the BBC documetairy series ‘Who Do You Think You Are?” traced the ancestry of the person who is the central figure in that episode back to the founders of Jardine Matheson. Maybe this is a worthwhile lead.

  • 4. K. Tang  |  23 June 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Is there anyone can suggest relevant resources regarding international trade and the rise of financial empire in 19th century as well? I am so interested in the term of “gentlemanly capitalist” which denotes to the financial investors in London in the 19th century.

  • 5. Andre Sammartino  |  23 June 2008 at 8:42 pm

    He might want to look at:

    Jones, G. Merchants to Multinationals. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

    Jones, G., and Judith Wale. “Merchants as Business Groups: British Trading Companies in Asia before 1945.” Business History Review 72, no. 3 (autumn 1998): 367-408.

    Stanley D. Chapman, “British-Based
    Investment Groups before 1914,” Economic History Review, 2nd series, 38 (1985): 230-51

  • 6. brayden  |  25 June 2008 at 12:28 pm

    I’m not particularly fond of his theoretical point-of-view but Andre Gunder Frank has written a ton on the economic development of Asia and its role in the modern world system. I’m sure there’s something there about trading companies. Check out his book, Reorient: Global Economy in the Asian Age.

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