Current Institutional Affiliation
Upper School Academic Dean

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2014
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Duke University
Competitive Collaboration: Forging Global Corporate Political Economy, 1600-1730

How, in the seventeenth century, did the rival Dutch (VOC) and English (EIC) East India Companies forge a shared corporate political economy that transcended national political and economic frameworks? In pursuit of this question, my dissertation analyzes company, state and personal records, focusing on the interactions between the agents of both companies. This project advances two primary interventions: (1) that, in a time known for the rise of mercantilism, the VOC and EIC acted as corporate bodies apart from, but related to their home states; and (2) that these corporations forged a relationship with each other in a complicated network of competition and collaboration that developed over the course of the seventeenth century. The competing firms targeted one another with intensive information gathering operations and they emulated each other's successful strategies. The diverse political and economic institutional ecologies of the states and empires throughout early modern Europe and Asia would all come to both define and be defined by this developing corporate organization. Employing methodologies from economic and political history as well as economic sociology and political science, this project addresses several critical inquiries. How did the communication networks and strategies of both firms involve an exchange of cultural, economic, and political ideas? How do we understand corporate as well as international conflict, including transnational trade, the law of nations, and the ways in which economic concepts were formed? How can corporate competition, itself, engender a set of common languages and ideas that create political economy? My dissertation introduces a non-state global institution to early modern economic and political history, long dominated by naturalized national categories. Simultaneously, this project contributes a new historical framework to the modern concept of multinational corporate organization and international law.