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Social networks and the transnational reach of the corporate class in the early-twentieth century.

By M. Brayshay, Mark C. Cleary and J. Selwood


NoThis paper explores the character, density and likely importance of connections between directors of a sample of 12 early-twentieth century British multinational companies. Drawing on the notion of `gentlemanly capitalism¿, a reconstruction of multiple and interlocking directorships for 1899¿1900 and 1929¿1930 indicates that a complex network existed that comprised links, respectively, to 255 and 497 companies. We explore the social, cultural and political characteristics of the directors of our sample and argue that the ways in which members of this group interacted with each other would have influenced business attitudes, facilitated transfers of knowledge and promoted interdependencies, thereby shaping commercial behaviour. We argue that the directors of early multinationals formed the kind of definable `power geometries¿ within the wider corporate elite that have been identified amongst today's business elites. Our results indicate that a distinct and increasingly dynamic multinational corporate community existed in the early 1900s, which was in many respects like its modern counterparts. A key finding is that the complexity of dyadic connections between directors and their personal networks of contacts increased markedly between 1899¿1900 and 1929¿1930

Topics: Interlocking directorships, Gentlemanly capitalism, Networks, Multinational companies
Year: 2007
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.jhg.2006.04.021
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Bradford Scholars
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