Chapter

Elites, Entrepreneurs, and British Business in the Twentieth Century

Youssef Cassis

in Business in Britain in the Twentieth Century

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780199226009
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191710315 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199226009.003.0005
Elites, Entrepreneurs, and British Business in the Twentieth Century

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This chapter discusses the role of elites and entrepreneurs in the development and performance of British business in the 20th century. Four main issues are addressed: first, the relationships between business elites and entrepreneurs; second, the composition of the British business elite; third, its socio-professional characteristics; and fourth, the debate about the success and failure of British entrepreneurs. The chapter provides both a historiographical review of the subject and a dynamic picture of the British business elite in the 20th century — sectoral distribution, company size, ownership and control, education and training, status and power, and business performance. It emphasizes the renewed interest, after years of neglect, in the history of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. It concludes that with the revival of the British economy since the mid 1990s, a more positive view of British business, past and present, has been prevailing, though not always explicitly formulated. Achievement rather than failure is likely to be the starting point of future research on the British business elite in the 20th century.

Keywords: elites; entrepreneurs; business; Britain; performance; success; failure

Chapter.  7512 words. 

Subjects: Business History

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