The United East India Company in the seventeenth century :'' A twentieth century prototype

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1965

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Abstract

In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries the Dutch, in the small area now known as the Netherlands, developed into the leading commercial nation of the time and, among other economic achievements, established the United East India Company, which operated on a scale not to be matched until the growth of the great corporations near the beginning of the twentieth century. The economic achievements of the Dutch have been under-emphasized in English language economic histories. In this study of the United East India Company and its seventeenth century setting the author has pursued conventional methods of bibliography building and data accumulation, particularly aided by his collector's Interest in old books and his established contacts with rare book dealers, but handicapped by a general paucity of Dutch titles in American libraries and by his limited ability to read Dutch. Correspondence with the major writers and authorities in the field of economic history was carried on for two purposes. First to verify that, to their knowledge, no work of this nature, relative to the Company existed, and secondly to draw from their knowledge source materials which might exist. In reporting the results of this research, the history of the Company is described in relation to the Dutch economic environment of the seventeenth century. The dynamic conditions of that age provided certain necessary elements such as flourishing entrepreneurial talent, capital accumulation, banking and stock exchange Institutions, opening of new sources of supply and new markets, demand analysis, standardization of products, development of a superior ship for long distance transportation and similar factors which conditioned the founding or expansion of the Company and encouraged a marked development of International trade. A close examination of the early development of the Dutch East India Company reveals some striking similarities to the early twentieth century development of the modern productive enterprise. It is significant that during the period in which the United Fast India Company flourished, the Dutch did not fully subscribe to the mercantilist theories that dominated economic policy in the countries that were her chief rivals. Particularly, they were not unduly reluctant to export specie to promote trade in markets eager to secure gold and silver. Given the international trade potentials of the sixteenth century, the economic analytical techniques, economic analysis and the economic institutions, the managerial, financial and productive market structures had to be developed in order to exploit these potentials. The resulting complex, known as the Dutch East India Company, ended with the appearance of a mature twentieth century corporation. The indications of this research suggest that a study might well be made of the applications of the Schumpeterian principles to economies other than that of the twentieth century and that these may have applications in other eras and economies.

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United East India Company

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