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The Corporation That Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational

4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-8125030225
ISBN-10: 8125030220
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A magnificent book about the father and mother of all companies. ... Everyone who studies corporate power and structure must read this well-written account." --Gordon Roddick, Chairman Emeritus of The Body Shop, co-founder of the Big Issue and Human Rights activist
 
"A powerful analysis of the rise and fall of the British East India Company, a private company that conquered a subcontinent and subjugated an entire people." --Huw Bowen, Professor of Imperial and Maritime History at the University of Leicester
 
"[This] will become a classic." --Simon Zadek, Chief Executive, AccountAbility
 
"Elegantly written and sharply argued." --Sankar Muthu, Princeton University

About the Author

Nick Robins has more than 20 years experience in the policy and practical realities of corporate accountability. A historian by training, he currently works on sustainable and responsible investment in London, and has written on the East India Company for the Financial Times, New Statesman and Resurgence.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Pluto Press (July 20, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8125030220
  • ISBN-13: 978-8125030225
  • ASIN: 0745325238
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #986,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Abhinav Agarwal VINE VOICE on January 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
The book and the author's contention is that the East India Company had a lot in common with the corporates of today, especially with the likes of Enron, and that a lack of appropriate corporate governance and weak oversight on the part of the government contributed to excesses therein. Specifically, "the drive for monopoly control, the speculative temptations of executives and investors, and the absence of automatic remedy for corporate abuse." [page 35]

The title may seem like hyperbole, but when you consider the impact that the Company Bahadur had on much of the world, including India and China, mostly for the worse, and mostly with tragic consequences, hyperbole does not seem like an exaggeration.

A must read.

In 1700, the GDP of Britain was $10.7 billion, representing 2.88% of world GDP. The respective figures for China were 82.8b, 22.3%, and for India 90.7b, 24.4%. By 1870, these had changed to $100b (9.1%) for Britain, $189b (17.2%) for China, and $134b (12.2%) for India. [page 7]

Disconnect and denial abounds in some quarters of the British aristocracy even today. The chief executive of the Standard Chartered Bank remarked that the challenge is now (in 2002) to "build upon the courageous, creative, and truly international legacy of the East India Company." [page 14]. "Rod Eddington, one time chief executive of British Airways" in a similar vein saw it "as a case study in how corporations succeed 'by dint of hard work, shrewdness and charm.' " [page 14, 15]
The author points out, correctly, that these "romantic interpretations ... fail to confront the costs associated with th Company's business practices.
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Format: Paperback
.The British East India Company was one of 6 East India Companies - the others being the Dutch (founded in 1602 and in existence until 1798), the Portuguese, the French, the Danish and the Swedish East India Companies. These were government-organized, and backed consortiums of the wealthy, who returned a reasonable profit.

As the East India companies were set up in the 1600s or earlier, East India trade also quite possibly was the reason for (to create a repository of wealth within Europe), and funded the Industrial Revolution. And funded the American exploration of many of these nations - Britain, France, Netherlands.

East India trade created many Yankee millionaires - a detailed description is given in the book Yankee India.

The Dutch East India Company paid out a 20% dividend to its shareholders, every year for 196 years.

Using the rule of 72 for calculation with compound interest, hypothetically, if a person invested $1 in the Dutch East India Company in 1602, it would be worth, $24,900 trillion (2 raised to the power of 54), in 1798.
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Very well written, which is a rare accomplishment on somewhat dry topics. Brings forward or reminds the reader that graft and corruption is not new to modern business and government. A company that conquered a nation literally and with its private army. A good read.
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Format: Paperback
The British East India Company is one of the world's most famous: founded in 1600, it began as an Asian spice trading company and ended up running Britain's Indian empire. Given its importance it's amazing to consider that The Corporation That Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational is actually the first coverage of the company to reveal its history and social record. College-level libraries strong in either world history or business will find this an intriguing discussion.
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Format: Paperback
It's difficult to convey my feeling about this book anymore bluntly than the subject line. If you are even remotely interested in the East India Company, the nature of 17th-18th century economics, the history of how corporations came to resemble their modern form, while at the same time getting a feel for the human elements of these early-modern business swashbucklers...this book is essential.

Nick Robins make the subject exciting, weaving together many threads, in what might be the most complete and reasoned package on an otherwise complex subject, since Jared Diamonds wrote Guns, Germs and Steel.

It's concise, clear and evocative. There's not a boring or wasted page in the book, and that's an almost unbelievable accomplishment with subjects of this nature.
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