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The Company Director: Commerce, State and Society

Brock, Aske Laursen (2017) The Company Director: Commerce, State and Society. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:60957)

Language: English
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This thesis traces the social networks of company directors involved in multinational commerce during the seventeenth century. It places commerce and directors at the centre of key economic, political and social developments during the seventeenth century, answering three interrelated questions: how did relationships between different corporate spheres change during the seventeenth century? How did the director develop as a socioeconomic agent during the seventeenth century? How did directors influence the formation of the English political economy?

The first chapter defines the company director and places them in the wider historiographical traditions, while also outlining the methodological approaches used throughout the thesis.

Chapter two examines how debates concerning the Virginia Company affected the wider community of company directors in the first decades of the seventeenth century, demonstrating how disparities in visions for trade created friction, which in turn affected the formation of governance in other companies.

The third chapter analyses how the networks of different groups of directors developed during the civil wars and Interregnum period. The tension between the varied parties drove fertile debates on company formats, which stretched existing notions of corporate governance.

Following on from this, chapter four traces how directors purged and counter-purged one another in during the Restoration. New networks were shaped by private trade overseas, by new extra-company institutions and by increased competition between companies. The growing differences between the Levant Company and the East India Company inspires renewed debates over directors' role.

The fifth chapter investigates how directors became familiar in England during the late seventeenth century. The joint stock boom of the 1690s gave a new presence to commercial corporate governance in England, while the links between the director community and the English state were further cemented by foundation of the Bank of England.

The final chapter examines the foundation of the New East India Company in 1698, as well as the subsequent merger of the old and new companies. The new company fractured and expanded of the director community. However, the merger between the two companies ignored contemporary political ideologies, and forged the directors' networks into a corporate superstructure.

The dissertation challenges the assumption that conflicts between insiders and outsiders in the commercial community accelerated the formation of the English political economy by tracing networks across a community of diverse individuals. It offers a new understanding of the relationship between commerce, politics and society in seventeenth century England, and demonstrates the importance of company directors as socioeconomic agents, emphasising the social nature of the early modern trading corporation.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Pettigrew, William A.
Uncontrolled keywords: Networks; Directors; Companies; Political-Economy; Early-Modern; Commerce; Global; Trade;
Subjects: D History General and Old World
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Funders: Organisations -1 not found.
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2017 18:00 UTC
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2022 00:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Brock, Aske Laursen.

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