Simon Ville and David MerrettMay 31, 2023
International Business in Australia before World War One
Shaping a Multinational Economy
Palgrave MacMillan 2022
This episode features Professor Simon Ville talking about his latest book with David Merrett International Business in Australia Before World War One: Shaping a Multinational Economy (Palgrave MacMillan, 2022).
This book challenges conventional wisdom by revealing an extensive and heterogeneous community of foreign businesses in Australia before 1914. Multinational enterprise arrived predominantly from Britain, but other sender nations included the USA, France, Germany, New Zealand, and Japan. Their firms spread out across Australia from mining and pastoral communities, to portside industries and CBD precincts, and they operated broadly across mining, trading, shipping, insurance, finance, and manufacturing. They were a remarkably diverse population of firms by size, organisational form, and longevity. This is a rare study of the impact of multinationals on a host nation, particularly before World War One, and that focuses on a successful resource-based economy. Deploying a database of more than 600 firms, supported by contemporary archives and publications, the work reveals how multinational influence was contested by domestic enterprise, other foreign firms, and the strategic investments of governments in network industries. Nonetheless, foreign agency – particularly investment, knowledge and entrepreneurship – mattered in the economic development of Australia in the nineteenth as well as the twentieth centuries. This book will be of interest to students and researchers in Australian and international economic and business history, the history of economic growth and scholars of international business.
Professor Ville is a Professor of Economic and Business History at the University of Wollongong in Australia. Prof Ville has worked with scholars in a broad range of disciplines including economics, history, management, sociology, engineering, and museum science.
Dr. Paula de la Cruz Fernández has been the host of this interview.