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Manton, M. G. (2008) The rise of the British managing agencies in north eastern India 1836-1918. MPhil thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis takes as its subject the foundation and rise to commercial power of the British Managing Agencies in Calcutta in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As private partnerships they initiated and controlled a substantial body of commercial, industrial and agricultural concerns, in transport, coal, jute, financial services and, importantly, in tea. This topic has been largely ignored by other business historians, who have preferred to study the Managing Agencies' eventual decline and extinction during the following half-century. However, it is equally instructive to examine the health and vigour that propelled young businesses towards the power and prosperity which blossomed before 1914. The thesis examines in some detail five Managing Agencies and the individual entrepreneurs who founded and ran them, necessarily selected according to the availability and usefulness of primary sources but providing a reasonably representative range of characteristics and business activities. In the course of this examination the thesis also examines the industries in which they were particularly engaged - jute, transport, tea, coal and indigo. However the insistence of Indian nationalist historians on the privileged position of British business rather than the merits of its performance which has suggested the issues which the thesis particularly examines: the degree of commercial skill possessed by British incomers; the impact of imported British technical innovation, notably steam power and mechanised jute textile production; the possibility that British commercial interests colluded to erect barriers to entry for Indian entrepreneurs; the importance of access (possibly preferential) to British investment capital and bank finance; the extent of preferential support from the imperial government; the absence of competitive Indian entrepreneurial activity before 1914.

Item Type: Theses (MPhil)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:02

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