Business history and economic globalisation
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Recent reviewers of the current state and future direction of business history have complained that, despite the growth of business history as a distinct academic discipline in recent decades, the field has tended to become side-lined in a number of debates which traditionally have been of major concern to business and economic historians. The paper discusses this issue by focusing on one of the major fields of research among economic historians and social scientists in recent years, namely the history of economic globalisation, and specifically the spectacular growth in international trade characterising the process. The history of economic globalisation and the causes of international trade growth has been a flourishing field of research in recent years, but business historians have not managed to make their mark on the major debates. We argue that one way of altering this situation would be to reinvigorate the old established link between business history and maritime history. We present two case studies showing how maritime firms played essential roles in putting in place vital organisational, technological and institutional preconditions for international trade growth. On this basis we argue that business historians of maritime firms are uniquely placed to understand the inner workings of the economic globalisation process and provide explanatory content to the macro oriented analysis dominating the existing literature.
This is the authors’ accepted and refereed manuscript to the article. The journal is available at www.tandfonline.com