Tirthankar Roy is a Professor of Economic History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His publications include The Economic History of India 1857947, Third Edition (2011), Towards a History of Consumption in South Asia, co-edited with Douglas Haynes, Abigail McGowan, and Haruka Yanagisawa (2010), Company of Kinsmen: Enterprise and Community in South Asian History 1700940 (2010), and Traditional Industry in the Economy of Colonial India (1999).
One of the driving forces of India’s high growth rate since the 1980s is the expansion of modern business corporations whose origins date back to the colonial era in the mid-nineteenth century. This monograph explores the historical foundation of the growth of such corporations in colonial India, guided by a substantial collection of documents of Tata Iron and Steel Company, whose rich records have not received the due attention they have long deserved. As clarified by numerous economic and business historians of leading industrialized countries since the works of Douglass North and Alfred Chandler, this study as well proposes that the development of modern business corporations in colonial India was broadly supported by the reciprocal evolution of economic institutions and corporate organizations. Adding a new perspective to the business and economic history of colonial India, the analysis also provides an important case study of the development of corporate business in the non-Western world to the study of global business history.
Challenging the prevailing wisdom on Indian economic growth - that it is bound up with Marxian, postcolonial class analysis - Roy formulates a new view. Commercialization, surplus labour and uncertainty are seen as equally important and the end result reconciles the increasingly opposed view of economists and historians.