Article | Business History Review | autumn 1998

Merchants as Business Groups: British Trading Companies in Asia before 1945

by G. Jones and Judith Wale

Abstract

Merchants formed an important component of British foregn direct investment before 1945. Locating in parts of Asia, Latin America and other developing economies, they often diversified into non-trading activities, inclding the ownership of plantations. This article examines three such British firms active initially in Asia, which also had operations in North America, Europe and Africa. Often regarded as handicapped by managerial failings, the authors instead cast these firms as more entrepreneurial, and possessing greater managerial competences than has been suggested.

Keywords: Trade; Developing Countries and Economies; Diversification; Competency and Skills; Entrepreneurship; Foreign Direct Investment; Asia; Latin America; Europe; Africa; North and Central America;

Citation:

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.