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Merchants to MultinationalsBritish Trading Companies in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries$
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Geoffrey Jones

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199249992

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199249997.001.0001

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(p.343) 12 Conclusion
Merchants to Multinationals

Geoffrey Jones (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The conclusion highlights the importance of trading companies as large components of British foreign direct investment before 1914, and which continued to renew and ‘re‐invent’ themselves until the end of the twentieth century. Diversification strategies were initially shaped by the conditions of the nineteenth century, when the lack of infrastructure and local entrepreneurship in developing economies created many opportunities for trading firms, but there were strong internalization incentives for integration arising from asset specificity, uncertainty, frequency of transactions, and opportunism. Although the initial status of many developed countries helped the British firms, they were also deeply embedded in local economies with numerous ‘contracts’, and their longevity rested on core competences in knowledge, information, and external relationships.

Keywords:   competences, contracts, diversification, entrepreneurship, foreign direct investment, information, internalization, knowledge, re‐invention, relationships

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