The history of British managing agency houses in India in the twentieth century is one of an increasing failure to adapt to change. The firms' records suggest that British businessmen chose to ignore the opportunities because they adhered to a particular form, the private partnership firm, which was reinforced by a commitment to the powerful social codes of colonial society. The racial and social exclusivity legitimised by these values became counterproductive at a time when it was important to build relationships with Indians and the state, and to modernise the firms using outside technical expertise. This chapter suggests that the approaches of legal, economic, cultural, and intellectual historians can be particularly fruitful in understanding the complexity of imperial encounter and in offering greater insights into the creation, consolidation, and dissolution of the European countries.
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