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1 - Introduction: the business–government relationship

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 March 2010

Terry Gourvish
Affiliation:
Director of the Business History Unit, London School of Economics and Political Science
Terry Gourvish
Affiliation:
London School of Economics and Political Science
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Summary

Research on the political history and research on the business history of twentieth-century Europe frequently run in parallel, without making the important connections between them. A major example in business history has been the neglect, in Alfred D. Chandler's Visible Hand and Scale and Scope paradigms, of the role of government in corporate development. In a great deal of historical work, accounts of corporate decision-making largely ignore the political process and, equally, in much political history it appears as if politicians shape economic and industrial policy in something of a vacuum. Of course, there is also a counter-tradition, a less abundant but growing literature that seeks to reveal the complex interactions between political institutions and economic institutions. Over the last forty years, indeed, in the academic lifetime of Alice Teichova, whom we honour in this volume, determined efforts have been made to explore the appropriate linkages, even if the results so far have been patchy and incomplete. As early as 1957, for example, Henry Ehrmann explored the role of organised business in France, focusing on the activities of employers' associations, and raising the question of the attitudes of business to the Vichy government. In 1974 both Arthur Knight and Neville Abraham juxtaposed private enterprise and public intervention, with Knight referring to the experiences of the textile giant Courtaulds over the period 1962–70. In the same year, Alice Teichova herself revealed the economic and business considerations underpinning the political ‘settlement’ at Munich in 1938.

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Business and Politics in Europe, 1900–1970
Essays in Honour of Alice Teichova
, pp. 1 - 14
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2003

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