Geoffrey G. Jones

Isidor Straus Professor of Business History

Geoffrey Jones is the Isidor Straus Professor of Business History, and Faculty Chair of the School's Business History Initiative. He holds degrees of BA, MA and PhD from Cambridge University, UK. He has an honorary Doctorate in Economics and Business Administration from Copenhagen Business School, Denmark, and an honorary PhD from the University of Helsinki, Finland. He taught previously at the London School of Economics, and Cambridge and Reading Universities in the UK, and at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands. He has held Visiting Professorships at Gakushuin University, Tokyo, and Universidad de los Andes, Bogota. Elsewhere at Harvard, he serves on the faculty committee of the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, and on the Policy Committee of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.

Professor Jones researches the evolution and impact of global business. He has written extensively on the history of international entrepreneurship and multinational corporations, specializing in consumer products including beauty and fashion, as well as services such as banking and commodity trading. He is a Fellow of the Academy of International Business.

Professor Jones's books include British Multinational Banking 1830-1990 (Oxford University Press, 1993), Merchants to Multinationals (Oxford University Press, 2000), (edited with Franco Amatori) Business History around the World (Cambridge University Press, 2003), Multinationals and Global Capitalism: From the Nineteenth to Twenty First Century (Oxford University Press, 2005), Renewing Unilever. Transformation and Tradition (Oxford University Press, 2005), and (edited with Jonathan Zeitlin) the Oxford Handbook of Business History (Oxford University Press, 2008).  Professor Jones's most recent book, Beauty Imagined (Oxford University Press, 2010) provides the first history of the global beauty industry from a business perspective. He is currently writing a new book called Profits and Sustainability: A Global History of Green Entrepreneurship, which is scheduled for publication by Oxford University Press in 2015. 

Ten Amazing Facts about Beauty...

1 Eugène Schueller, the founder of the world’s biggest beauty company L’Oréal, invented the world’s first safe synthetic hair dye after numerous experiments in his own kitchen, with the police being regularly called because of explosions.

2 Olay, now the world's fourth largest beauty brand, originated in the wartime research of a chemist in South Africa, who developed a topical skin treatment to prevent dehydration of burn wounds on pilots. The brand was purchased by the Australian subsidiary of an American company in 1970, which was in turn acquired by Procter & Gamble in 1985. The brand was then re-invented, and taken global.

3 François Coty, one of France’s greatest beauty entrepreneurs, got his perfume business started by smashing one of his bottles on the floor of a leading Parisian department store in a successful gambit to get customers to smell it.

4 Perfume was drunk as a health drink right up to the nineteenth century, and men were as likely as women to use cosmetics.

5 The Communist regime of Mao Zedong banned the use of cosmetics in the 1970s, and visitors to China struggled to tell men from women. Today China is the world’s fourth largest beauty market, with most leading Western brands sold as skin lighteners.

6 Among the first American female millionaires were two African-American beauty entrepreneurs – Madam C. J. Walker and Annie Turnbo Malone.

7  Anita Roddick established the first Body Shop in Brighton, England, to finance her husband’s ambition to spend two years riding on horseback from Buenos Aires to New York City.

8 Max Factor, the great Hollywood make-up artist, began his career as wigmaker and cosmetician for the Imperial Russian Grand Opera, before fleeing to America in 1904, and taking the name given to him at the Ellis Island Immigrant Station: Max Factor.

9 The modern Indian cosmetics industry originated when Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, requested the Tata business group to create an Indian-owned cosmetics business, which was then expanded by the French-born Simone N. Tata, who had married into the Tata family.

10 After the forced opening-up of Japan by Commodore Perry in the mid-nineteenth century, one of the priorities of the modernizing Japanese government was to change the cosmetic appearances of their population to make them look more Western. Women were prohibited from the traditional practices of blackening their teeth and shaving their eyebrows, and men were prohibited from wearing cosmetics altogether.