DISCUSSION The Corporation That Changed The World

by Yolanda Villafuerte _______19th November 2012
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NEW BOOK REVEALS THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF CORPORATE BEHAVIOUR

“The Corporation That Changed The World’ by Nick Robins
Publication of 2nd Edition by Pluto Press

The new edition of Nick Robins’ seminal work on  how the East India Company shaped the modern multinational shows why the story of this extraordinary corporation has profound lessons for corporations and society today..

The second edition has been substantially expanded and explores the Company’s enduring global legacy. It investigates how the Company’s spectacular rise and fall were driven by the four forces of finance, technology, monopoly and regulation. Established in London in 1600, the Company had monopoly control over all trade with Asia and evolved from a commercial enterprise focused on spices, textiles and tea to a corporation ruling large parts of India until its demise in 1857.

Interest in the Company has been growing in recent years as the global economy turns back to Asia.  The book examines  how and why Europe and Asia have such different memories of the Company’s rise and fall, and how the Company reversed the ancient flow of wealth from West to East to benefit Britain, its shareholders and its executives. Through its pages, Robins shows how many of today’s toughest economic problems have deep historical roots. For example, the Company’s shares went through their own ‘Bengal Bubble’, in the process, it became the original ’ too big to fail’ corporation, with the UK government having to it bail it out. .  Nick Robins says: “For me, this book is an attempt to grapple with the shared past of Britain and Asia. . It also evaluates what lessons the Company’s extraordinary 250 year-long career can teach us about finance, regulation and accountability in the 21st century.  I hope that a better understanding of the Company’s legacy will guide future patterns of trade and investment.”

The book received much critical acclaim when first published. Gordon Roddick, co-founder of The Big Issue describes it as “a magnificent book about the father and mother of all companies”. Isabel Hilton, editor of China Dialogue adds: “Nick Robins’ history of astonishing corporate greed, excess and abuse of power is brilliantly told, and perfectly timed.”

Nick Robins adds: “When the first edition was published, the dot-com bubble was a recent memory. Now the concern is about companies that are ‘too big to fail’. What is extraordinary about the Company’s story is that all these themes were experienced more than two centuries ago. We worry about corporate governance; they fought duels.   I have also expanded it, focusing on South India where the Company was implicated in the first ‘third world’ debt crisis and also on China where the Company was integral to the biggest trade of its time, opium. The story has now come full circle with the launch of a new East India Company as a luxury brand by an Indian entrepreneur.”

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

For Further information, including interview requests, please contact:

Sharon Garfinkel
Phone: 07708 048 124

Email: Sharongarfinkel@yahoo.co.uk

Author Nick Robins will be on the panel at the Tomorrow’s Value Lecture on 21 November.   

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