The Business History of the Preindustrial World: Towards a Comparative Historical Analysis
The organisation of business transactions in the preindustrial period, once a central concern in scholarly debates about the rise of capitalism, currently plays only a marginal role in the literature on long-run economic development. Our survey of the contents of five top-tier business and economic history journals published in the United Kingdom and the United States from 2000 to 2016 finds that only 20 per cent of the articles concern the entire period before 1800 and that, among those articles, most are national or regional in scope, with a disproportionate focus on Europe, and on England in particular. At the same time, our survey suggests that a strong theoretical foundation and rich empirical data exist on the basis of which we can develop a comparative business history of the preindustrial world. We identify four areas of enquiry that are especially conducive to further comparisons within and beyond Europe: the corporation, the family firms, the economic role of women, and the funding of private businesses.
Oscar Gelderblom & Francesca Trivellato (2018) “The Business History of the Preindustrial World: Towards a Comparative Historical Analysis,” Business History, 60, no.5. OA: https://doi.org/10.1080/00076791.2018.1426750