Hostname: page-component-77c89778f8-gq7q9 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-22T04:08:19.699Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Histories and Futures of Business in a Turbulent World

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 September 2023

Patricia Clavin*
Professor of Modern History, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK


When it comes to events that have marked turning points in the relationship between global governance and business history, I have focused on the role of international crises to understand the forces shaping relations between firms, states, and global governance frameworks. Such an approach stems from the fact that I am primarily an historian of international relations, and much of my research and writing is concentrated on European and global history in the period from about 1880 to 1950. For me, the origins and course of the two world wars and the Cold War have been as important as crises of capitalism, such as the Great Depression.

Roundtable on Capitalism and Global Governance
© 2023 The President and Fellows of Harvard College

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


7 Clavin, Patricia, Securing the World Economy: The Reinvention of the League of Nations, 1919–1946 (Oxford, 2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Clavin, Patricia and Dungy, Madeline, “Trade, Law and Global Order, 1914–1930,” Diplomatic History 44, no. 3 (2020): 554–579Google Scholar; Clavin, Patricia, “Britain and the Making of Global Order after 1919: The Ben Pimlott Memorial Lecture,” Twentieth Century British History 31, no. 3 (2020): 340–359CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Clavin, Patricia, “The Austrian Hunger Crisis and the Genesis of International Organization after the First World War,” International Affairs 90, no. 2 (2014): 265–278CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

8 Kennan, George F., The Decline of Bismarck's European Order. Franco-Russian Relations, 18751890 (Princeton, 1979), 3CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

9 Hurrell, Andrew, On Global Order: Power, Values, and the Constitution of International Society (Oxford, 2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

10 Zimmern, Alfred, The League of Nations and the Rule of Law, 1918–1935 (London, 1938), 149Google Scholar.

11 Zimmern, League of Nations, 146–147.

12 See “Controls Exercised by Government Departments,” Economic and Financial Section Branch memoranda, 1921, League of Nations Archives, S129-76-6.

13 Decorzant, Yann, La Société des Nations et la naissance d'une conception de la régulations économique internationale (Brussels, 2011), 133135Google Scholar.

14 We still know far less about the evolution of these arrangements from the business side. State and administrative aspects dominated the story from the business perspective. Crucially, these emergent mechanisms of global governance solved “the problem of controlling the action without displacing the authority of National Governments.” See Salter, Arthur, Allied Shipping Control: An Experiment in International Administration (Oxford, 1921), 246Google Scholar.

15 “Industrial Directorships: Another Capture from the Civil Service,” The Manchester Guardian, March 20, 1919, 4.

16 See Letter from Edouard Dolléans (General Secretary of the ICC) to Ibbetson James (Provisional Secretary of the Economic and Financial Committee of the League of Nations), 28 Jan. 1921, League of Nations Archives, Geneva, S141-91-26; David, Thomas and Eichenberger, Pierre, “Business and Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century: A Corporatist View,” Diplomatica 2 (2020): 4856CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

17 ICC, “Who We Are,” accessed 8 June 2022,

18 Louis Loucher Papers, Hoover Institution, accessed 8 June 2022,

19 David, Thomas and Eichenberger, Pierre, “‘A World Parliament of Business’?: The International Chamber of Commerce and Its Presidents in the Twentieth Century,” Business History 65, no. 2 (2023): 15CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

20 Louis Loucheur and Jacques De Launay, Carnets Secrets, 19081932: Dossiers Secrets De L'histoire (Bruxelles, 1962); Carls, Stephen Douglas, Louis Loucheur and the Shaping of Modern France, 1916–1931 (Baton Rouge, 1993)Google Scholar; Barjot, Dominique, “Les Cartels, Une Voie Vers L'intégration Européenne?: Le Rôle De Louis Loucheur (1872-1931),” Revue économique 64, no. 6 (2013): 1043–1066CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

21 Stephen Legg, Mike Heffernan, and Benjamin Thorpe, eds., Placing Internationalism and the Making of the Modern World (London, 2022).

22 See the work of Kiran Klaus Patel, most recently, Project Europe: A History (Cambridge, 2020).

23 See, for example: Maurice Obstfeld, The International Monetary System: Living with Asymmetry NBER Working Paper Series No. 17641 (Cambridge, MA, 2011); Francine Mackenzie, GATT and the Global Order in the Postwar Era (Cambridge, 2020); Patricia Clavin and Madeleine Dungy, “Trade, Law, and the Global Order of 1919,” Diplomatic History 44, no. 4 (2020): 554-579.

24 See work of the International Network, “Contestations of the Liberal Script (SCRIPTS): Global Challenges for the Model of Liberal Democracy and Market Economy,” accessed June 8, 2022.

25 Patros C. Mavroidis and André Sapir, China and the WTO: An Uneasy Relationship,” Vox EU, April 29, 2021, accessed 8 June 2022,

26 See, for example, Geoffrey Jones and Valeria Giacomin, “Deglobalization and Alternative Futures,” Harvard Business School Technical Note, 322-088, Jan. 2022; Christina Lubinski. Navigating Nationalism in Global Enterprise: A Century of Indo-German Business Relations (Cambridge, 2022). These works move away from a preoccupation in business history of Central Europe that focused more on Nazi penetration than the shocks that hit the region after 1917. See, for example, Gross, Stephen G., Export Empire: German Soft Power in Southeastern Europe, 1890–1945 (Cambridge, 2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

27 The concept of turbulence has impacted financial history and governance. See, for example, Papadia, F. and Välimäki, Tuomas, Central Banking in Turbulent Times (Oxford, 2018)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Ansell, Christopher K., Governance in Turbulent Times (Oxford, 2017)Google Scholar.

28 For more analysis of contemporary problems, see the Oxford Martin Programme on Changing Global Orders, accessed 8 June 2022,

29 See, for example, Ewert, Ulf Christian and Selzer, Stephan, Institutions of Hanseatic Trade (Frankfurt, 2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Romano, Maurizio, “Multinational Business and Transnational Regions: A Transnational Business History of Energy Transition in the Rhine Region, 1945–1973,” Business History 63, no. 1 (2021): 165–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

30 Hsieh, Pasha L. and Mercurio, Bryan, ASEAN Law in the New Regional Economic Order: Global Trends and Shifting Paradigms (Cambridge, 2019)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

31 Dietz, Thomas, Global Order Beyond Law: How Information and Communication Technologies Facilitate Relational Contracting in International Trade. International Studies in the Theory of Private Law (London, 2014)Google Scholar; Mattli, Walter and Dietz, Thomas, International Arbitration and Global Governance (Oxford, 2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Yates, JoAnne and Murphy, Craig N., “Introduction: Standards and the Global Economy,” Business History Review 96, no. 1 (2022): 3–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

32 Mulder, Nicholas, The Economic Weapon: The Rise of Sanctions as a Tool of Modern War (New Haven, 2022)Google Scholar.

33 The archival resources of the United Nations can be found online at the United Nations Library & Archives Geneva, accessed 8 June 2022, For access to the International Labor Organization's sources, see “ILO Resources,” accessed 8 June 2022,

34 Gabriela Steier and Kiran K. Patel, eds. International Food Law and Policy (New York, 2016).

35 Patricia Clavin and Sunil Amirith, “Feeding the World: Connecting Europe and Asia, 1930–1945,” Past and Present, Supplement 8 (2013): 29–50.

36 Among my archives are those of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, as well as personal papers of leading food scientists house at the Wellcome Institute. See “Welcome to the David Lubin Memorial Library,” Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, accessed 8 June 2022,; and “Collections,” Wellcome Collection, accessed 8 June 2022,

37 See Unger, Corinna, International Development: A Postwar History (London, 2018)Google Scholar; Stephen Macekura and Erez Manela, eds., The Development Century: A Global History (Cambridge, 2018); Unger, Corinna, “International Organizations and Rural Development: The FAO Perspective,” International History Review 41, no. 2 (2019): 451–458CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

38 Lang, Tim, Feeding Britain: Our Food Problems and How to Fix Them (London, 2020)Google Scholar; Rebanks, James, English Pastoral: An Inheritance (London, 2020)Google Scholar; Rebanks, James, English Pastoral: An Inheritance (London, 2020)Google Scholar.