Why the East India Company became the most powerful business‬ in history? Because it granted its employees the right to pursue their own commercial interests

Between Monopoly and Free Trade The English East India CompanyExploring trade network dynamics, decision-making processes and organizational context, in an extraordinary Between Monopoly and Free Trade: The English East India Company, 1600–1757 Emily Erikson (Yale University) demonstrates why the English East India Company was a dominant force in the expansion of trade between Europe and Asia. Though the Company held a monopoly on English overseas trade to Asia, its Court of Directors extended the right to trade in Asia to their employees, creating an unusual situation in which employees worked both for themselves and for the Company as overseas merchants. Building on the organizational infrastructure of the Company and the sophisticated commercial institutions of the markets of the East, employees constructed a cohesive internal network of peer communications that directed English trading ships during their voyages. This network integrated Company operations, encouraged innovation, and increased the Company’s flexibility, adaptability, and responsiveness to local circumstance.
This innovative and award-winning book brilliantly shows the full potential of network analysis for the understanding of the diffusion of information, while remaining sensitive to the roles of context, locality, and culture. The author makes an essential contribution to economic sociology scholarship, and especially to debates on the origins of capitalism, imperialism and globalization.
(Open access to the Introduction)

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