The Alternative Business History: Business in Emerging Markets

20 Nov 2017

This article suggests that the business history of emerging markets should be seen as an alternative business history, rather than merely adding new settings to explore established core debates. The discipline of business history evolved around the corporate strategies and structures of developed economies. The growing literature on the business history of emerging markets addresses contexts that are different from those of developed markets. These regions had long eras of foreign domination, had extensive state intervention, faced institutional inefficiencies, and experienced extended turbulence. This article suggests that this context drove different business responses than are found in the developed world. Entrepreneurs counted more than managerial hierarchies; immigrants and diaspora were critical sources of entrepreneurship; illegal and informal forms of business were common; diversified business groups rather than the M-form became the major form of large-scale business; corporate strategies to deal with turbulence were essential; and radical corporate social-responsibility concepts were pursued by some firms.