Business History in Latin America: The Experience of Seven Countries

By Carlos Dávila; Rory Miller et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
Business History in Argentina
Raúl García Heras

The aim of this chapter is to review the literature on the history of business in Argentina. It will include texts which may rightly be considered as ‘business history’, and others which have made significant contributions to this field of knowledge, even though they do not fit into this category exactly. The studies reviewed in this chapter fall into four sections: foreign companies; state enterprises; local private firms; and interest groups and professional associations. In order to understand why certain subjects have received more attention than others in the work undertaken thus far, each section will identify the ideological and intellectual trends that have influenced academic research. The epilogue at the end of the chapter, besides summarising the specific conclusions reached in each section, aims also to outline the most important academic tasks still outstanding in the historiography of business in Argentina and to make some comparisons with the state of the discipline in other Latin American countries.


Foreign companies

The majority of the rail network affected by the programme of nationalisation of public utilities which characterised Argentine economic policy in the period immediately following the Second World War belonged to companies registered in Great Britain. These were the most important foreign investments in the country up to that date. They had played a decisive role in the spectacular growth experienced by the Argentine agro-export economy before 1914, and had remained crucial in the maintenance of close economic links with Great Britain. They symbolised the role Britain played as Argentina's principal trading and financial partner once the country became fully integrated into the international economy during the second half of the nineteenth century. This meant that even though the state also nationalised some smaller French railway companies, the British firms, due to their magnitude, role, and strategic location, became the subject of the first and most important studies undertaken on foreign companies in the country.1

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1
The French companies which were nationalised were the Ferrocarril Provincial de Santa Fé (1885), the Compañía General de Ferrocarriles de la Provincia de Buenos Aires (1905), and the Ferrocarril de Rosario a Puerto Belgrano (1906).

-17-

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