Monday December 4th 2006

Nick Robins: The Corporation that Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational


The Society was pleased to welcome Nick Robins to discuss his new book The Corporation that Changed the World.

In a fascinating talk, Nick discussed the role played by the East India Company in creating the modern joint stock company, the creation of the British Empire and its relationship to contemporary corporations - both in terms of structure and scandals.

He also gave insightful answers to question

asked by the society's members, covering subjects as diverse as Clive of India's estates, trading in the Dutch East Indies and Indian advertising.

Afterwards, members went for a curry at the Darjeeling Indian Restaurant.

The book is available now, published by Pluto Press - a brief extract is reproduced here:

Founded in 1600, the East India Company was the forerunner of the modern multinational.  Starting life as a trader in Asian spices, the Company ended its days running Britain's Indian empire.  In the process, it shocked its contemporaries with the scale of its violence, corruption and speculation.  This is the first ever book to expose the truth about the Company's social record. Robins reveals a hidden story of tragedy and intrigue. War, famine, stock-market bubbles and even duels between rival executives are all to be found in this account.  For Robins, the Company's legacy provides compelling lessons on how to ensure the accountability of today's global business.

Nick Robins works in the City of London, running socially responsible investment funds for Henderson Global Investors.  A historian by training, he has nearly 20 years experience in corporate responsibility issues and writes widely for magazines such as Resurgence, the New Statesman and Ethical Corporation.