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Course Description
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Business: European Business History
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)
Barcelona, Spain

Subject Area(s) Level(s) Instruction in Credits Contact Hours Prerequisites
Business, History, European Studies 300 English 3 45 N/A


Number of sessions: 30

Length of each session: 1,5 h

Total length of the module: 45 hours


This course examines the evolution of the European firm in the last two centuries. It
begins dealing with concept of the entrepreneur, the nature of the firm, and the role of
the enterprises in economic growth. Then the focus is on the firm during the first and
second industrial revolutions, where we will study the industrial districts and the
emergence of the big business. We will deal with the different European Business
models in the 20th century, Britain, Germany and France. We will finish with a dynamic
analysis of the multinationals in the long run.


1. Entrepreneur and the nature of the firm (3 sessions)
Functions of the entrepreneur
Nature of the firm
Firm and Economic Growth

2. Family business and industrial districts during the Industrial Revolution (5 sessions)
The industrial firm and the factory system
Entrepreneurship and networks
Industrial clusters

3. The emergence of big business (4 sessions)
Railway companies
Strategy and structure
The rise of the American Business Corporation

4. Great Britain: Personal Capitalism (4 sessions)
British Industrial Enterprise
Growth via mergers and acquisitions
Dominance of personal management

5. Cooperative Managerial Capitalism: German Big Business (4 sessions)
Industrial and Financial Cooperation
Industrial Organisation: the role of the cartels

6. The role of the State (5 sessions)
European State owned enterprises
Regulation and the firm
Impact of the European Union

7. The multinationals (5 sessions)
International firm during liberalism
Growth and management of the multinational firm
Government and International business


30% Essay (word limit: 2000 words)

70% Exam (2 hour written exam)


Jonathan Brown and Mary Rose (1994) Entrepreneurship, networks and modern Business,
Manchester University Press.

Youseff Cassis (1999) Big Business. The European Experience in the Twentieth Century,

Youseff Cassis and Ioanna Minoglou (eds) (2005) Entrepreneurship in Theory and History,

Alfred Chandler (eds) (2005) Leviathans. Multinational Corporations and the New Global
History, CUP.

Alfred Chandler (eds) (1990) Scale and Scope. The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism, The Belknap Press.

A, Chandler, F. Amatori and T. Ikino (eds) (1997) Big Business and the Wealth of Nations, CUP.

Andrea Colli (2003) The History of Family Business, 1850-2000, CUP.
Gary Herrigel (1996) Industrial Constructions: The Sources of German Industrial Power, CUP.

Geoffrey Jones (2005) Multinationals and the Global Capitalism: From the Nineteenth to
Twenty-First Century, OUP.

Geoffrey Jones and Jonathan Zeitlin (eds.) (2008) The Oxford Handbook of Business History, OUP.

Maurice Kirby and Mary Rose (1994) Business enterprise in modern Britain from the eighteen to the twentieth century, Routledge.

Michael Smith (2006) The Emergence of Modern Business Enterprise in France, 1800-1930, Harvard UP.

Pier A. Toninelli (ed) (2000) The Rise and Fall of State-Owned Enterprise in the Western
World, CUP.

Richard Wittington and Michael Mayer (2002) The European Corporation: Strategy, Structure
and Social Science, OUP.

Jonathan Zeitlin and Peer Hull Kristensen (2005) Local Players in Global Games: The
Strategic Constitution of a Multinational Corporation, OUP.

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