Business History


This course provides an overview on the historical formation of the modern enterprise. This analysis is put in a comparative perspective, assessing the importance of the modern corporation in different countries. This course also examines the development of multinationals and international business since the mid-nineteenth century. Furthermore, the course analyses the relation between state and firm over time, considering not only the different forms of regulation, but also the rise and decline of the state-owned enterprise. Finally, corporate finance, marketing, operations management, and human resources as different functional areas of the firm are studied in an historical perspective.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Álvaro Ferreira da Silva


Weekly - Available soon

Total - Available soon

Teaching language

Portuguese and English



Recommended readings will be presented in each session. The following references are general readings on business history, guiding the course’s organization.
Chandler Jr., A. D. (1977), The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business.
Cambridge MA: Harvard Univ. Press.
Chandler Jr., A. D. (1989), Scale and Scope. The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism. Cambridge MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Chandler Jr., A. D., F. Amatori and T. Hikino (eds.) (1997), Big Business and the Wealth of Nations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Jones, G. (2005), Multinationals and global capitalism: from the nineteenth to the twenty first century. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.
Jones, G. and J. Zeitlin (2008), The Oxford Handbook of Business History. Oxford: Oxford Univ.
Toninelli, P. A. (ed.) (2000), The Rise and Fall of State-Owned Enterprise in the Western World.
Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press

Teaching method

The course will be based on lectures, workshop classes, compulsory reading materials, tutorial work with the students, in-class and on-line debates, and written assignments. These delivery methods try to develop the different learning outcomes, combining lectures with structured learning, individual compulsory reading and individual or group tutorial support, autonomous work with teamwork. Detailed coursework, readings and assignments are available in the Moodle platform.

Evaluation method

•    Teamwork (40%)
•    Individual assignments and participation in class discussions and on-line Forum (20%)
•    Exam (40%) - In order to pass you should have at least 9.0 in the final exam.
There might be some minor change in the relative weight of the different assignments

Subject matter

1. Introduction

2. Tradition and innovation: the business firm and the Industrial Revolution

3. The advent of the modern industrial enterprise (1850-1914)

4. Comparative approach to business structures over time and across space

5. The functions of the firm: an historical perspective

6. Business in motion

7. Business and state

8. The modern firm: summary and prospective