The Corporation That Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational

The Corporation That Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational

by Nick Robins

A popular history of the British East India Company and how it shaped the way corporations operate today.

  • Language: English
  • Category: History
  • Rating: 3.69
  • Pages: 240
  • Publish Date: July 20th 2006 by Pluto Press
  • Isbn10: 0745325238
  • Isbn13: 9780745325231

Read the Book "The Corporation That Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational" Online

* Great detail on incredibly fine minutae, which I adore out of a history book. I would read a paragraph and go "what century was this in?" * Expects the reader already to be an expert on John Company.

Established on a cold New Year's Eve, 1600, England's East India Company is the mother of the modern corporation. The Company's establishment by royal charter, its monopoly of all trade between Britain and Asia and its semi-sovereign privileges to rule territories and raise armies certainly mark it out as a corporate institution from another time. And for the first 150 years, the Company had to repeat this practice, as there was almost nothing that England could export that the East wanted to buy (7). Essentially this is the story of how the East India Company forced this to change in search of profit. On James Mill in particular there is this awesome anecdote: One account describes how "when particularly inspired he used, before sitting down to his desk, to not only strip himself of his coat and waistcoat, but of his trousers, and so set to work, alternately striding up and down the room and writing at great speed." (189) This also connects to other histories of Empire, like one of those that fascinates me most -- the evangelical project to settle Sierra Leone (read an early account here in relation to the Clapham Sect, another in relation to other trading companies here, and a later more fuller one here). Structural greed, as it's three main flaws accoridng to Robins (and these remain unchanged today) are these, which lead to what can only be called villainy in the search for 'immediate and excessive returns': Executives and shareholders can pursue own profit to the detriment of all others -- there is no higher purpose of the corporation. The separation of ownership and control allows executives to pursue profit and exploit the company for their own ends. Within this greater framework of greed and exploitation, individuals were also on the look out to make their own fortunes: For its executives, the purpose of a career with the Company was to achieve a 'competence', making enough money to be able to retire and adopt the conspicuous consumption patterns of the British landed gentry. The East India Company also had to continually renew its royal charter, which required regularly justifying its existence outside of its investors at regular intervals. Robins quotes Niels Steengard as saying -- 'the principal export of the pre-industrial Europe to the rest of the world was violence.' (44) The history of the EIC is this its efforts to maximise its power, and to minimise risks and controls. A number of fortunes were made in autocratic bids to gain more power and profit -- that of director Sir Josiah Child ('Perhaps more than any other of the Company's executives before or since, Josiah Child had demonstrated where an appetite for corporate power could lead' (57)). Robert Clive attacked and defeated the nawab of Bengal, capturing Calcutta and thus 'enabling the Company to achieve its long desired monopoly over the export trade, expanding into the internal market and appropriating the public revenues of Bengal for its own benefit' (77). Bengal's weavers were devastated -- they were not rich but good evidence shows they lived and worked under much better standards of living than the weavers in England, with more control over their production terms and conditions. Robins writes: The Bengal Famine stands out as perhaps one of the worst examples of corporate mismanagement in history (97). Besides, it depends how you define mismanagement, the point of a corporation is to make a profit, and the EIC continued to make a profit through these years, difficult as they found it. I also appreciate this in Burke: 'Rather than viewing history as a civilisational contest between primitive and progressive nations, Burke believed that each society had its own intrinsic value, which should not be sacrificed to the interests of profit or power (141) But I haven't even started on the account of China yet, the stealing of their secrets of tea production, the enforced opium trade through war and smuggling. But thus we come to the end of the EIC as company, and onto India as part of the British Empire.

This is a history of the British East India Company, a corporate biography if you will. The history of the East India Company is tied together with the heart of the British Imperial experience in India. These were developments that shaped the history of India and China through various wars and campaigns of conquest as well as the British industrial revolution and subsequent dominance in global trade. These are huge problems in policy making towards corporations today and they were present from the start with the East India Company. Robins also argues that the history of the East India Company has implications for corporate governance problems among contemporary corporations and he provides a nice discussion with lots of references for those wishing to read more.

nsan, bunlar "birlikte" daha kolay yapabileceini fark ettiinden beri (ki muhtemelen en batan beri), önce topluluklar, gelimeye paralel hem topluluklar büyüyüp hem de ilikiler çeitlendikçe de topluluk içi -ama ayrca- kurumlar oluturmu. yy.'n banda vard nokta, ilkinin Bat Avrupa ile Amerika'da, ikincinin Dou Avrupa ve Asya'da kendi yönetim modellerini devletletirmeleri oldu. Nick Robins'in "Dünyay Deitiren irket, Dou Hindistan Kumpanyas'nn Modern Çokulusluluu ekillendirmesi" kitab, bir yandan piyasa dinamizminin gelimede nelere kadir olduunu ama öte yandan dizginsiz ve etik snrlar çizilmemi kâr hrsnn da nelere sebep olabileceini, bir yandan günümüzde Londra'nn "unutmaya çalt" Kumpanya tarihinden, dier yandan da arada geçiler yapt günümüz irketlerinden örneklerle aktaryor -ve bu haliyle Londra tarihsel arka planda "unutmaya" çalsa da modern irketlerin "unutmam" olabileceklerini kulamza seslendiriyor. Bir anlamda Robins (niyeti bu olmamasna ramen) Dou'nun eletirilerinde hakl olmu olabileceini, geni tabanl sermaye yapsna sahip irketlerin datt kâr, temettü, hisse deerlerinde ki kârla orantl yükselilerden faydalanan insanlarn, sahip olduklar refah seviyesi devam ettii sürece kendilerinden uzakta yaanan olumsuzluklar...

WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE EAST INDIA COMPANY? CAUSED A GREAT DEAL OF SUFFERING - The East India Company deserves to be looked at as it was a profit-making company that generated great wealth, but one that also contributed to immense suffering. ONE OF MANY COMPANIES - The East India Company was one of a number of companies granted a royal charter by the British state to take advantage of the opportunities opened up by the age of European expansion and exploration. - Unlike the pioneers of the Asia trade, the Portuguese, who adopted a wholly state-led strategy, or the Dutch, who introduced a mixed publicprivate model, the English pushed forward a private sector strategy for tapping the wealth of the East. What makes the English East India Company special is the way it bridged the medieval concept of the corporation as an essentially public body with the industrial model of an enterprise acting primarily in the interests of its shareholders. MADE QUITE THE PROFIT FOR THE BRITISH CROWN - The Company was a corporate colossus, alone accounting for between 13 and 15 per cent of all Britains imports between 1699 and 1774. STEAL FROM THE DEFEATED CHINESE - Queen Victoria was amongst those who welcomed the victorious troops on their return to Britain in December 1860, and was delighted with her own trophy of the Summer Palace, a Pekinese dog, promptly nicknamed Looty, EAST INDIA COMPANY BECOMES A FACADE FOR THE CROWN - the 1784 India Act had introduced a two-tier system a double government with the Company maintaining a façade of authority, behind which the state pulled the strings through the Board of Control. LESSONS TO BE LEARNED FROM THE EAST INDIA COMPANY - If there is one clear lesson that the Companys history can bring to the twenty-first century, it is that the corporate form is not fixed, but eternally mutable. - Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast (30 Mar 2009) How did the East India Company change the world? - Relaunch of East India Company in 2010 as luxury food store in London: - National Maritime Museum exhibit on East India Company: