Andrew Smith and Dimitry Anastakis, Eds., Smart Globalization: The Canadian Business and Economic History Experience

By Nerbas, Don | Labour/Le Travail, Fall 2015 | Go to article overview

Andrew Smith and Dimitry Anastakis, Eds., Smart Globalization: The Canadian Business and Economic History Experience


Nerbas, Don, Labour/Le Travail


Andrew Smith and Dimitry Anastakis, eds., Smart Globalization: The Canadian Business and Economic History Experience (Toronto: University of Toronto Press 2014)

THIS EDITED COLLECTION examines Canadian business and economic history through the theme of globalization. Drawing upon the work of economists Ha-Joon Chang and Dani Rodrik, editors Andrew Smith and Dimitry Anastakis present Canada as an ideal historical example of "selective globalization" in their sweeping and thought-provoking introduction. By this they mean that Canada's economic development has been characterized by the state's selective and democratically mediated embrace of globalization. The book's eight essays, in various ways and to various degrees, examine the nature and test the success of this development strategy. With contributions from historians and economists, the volume represents an effort to bridge the disciplinary boundaries between history and economics. It also represents an effort by historians to insert themselves and their work more directly in present-day debates about globalization and economic policy. These are laudable initiatives.

The first five essays centre upon the era of globalization before World War I. Andrew Dilley examines Ontario's hydroelectric policy in relation to the Canadian businessmen and British bondholders interested in private development. Dilley finds the City of London's campaign against public power in Ontario rather more powerful than previously believed. He concludes that Ontario's ability to back public hydroelectric power, in defiance of the City, demonstrates the capacity for flexible accommodation of popular economic policies within the British Empire during the pre-1914 phase of globalization. Mark Kuhlberg demonstrates persuasively that the Ontario government's commitment to establishing the "manufacturing condition" on pulpwood during the period from 1890 to 1930 was a politically strategic gesture that lacked substance. The real purpose and outcome of the policy was to facilitate the flow of pulpwood across the border to American mills. In this case, the program of selective globalization appears less significant than depicted in earlier studies. Daryl White offers a tidy investigation of Canadian efforts to restrict the export of nickel from Inco's Sudbury mine to the Central Powers during the period of American neutrality in the First World War, a chapter that underlines the transnational entanglements associated with the operation of the modern corporation. Livio Di Matteo, J.C. Herbery Emery, and Martin Shanahan compare wealth formation in the Lakehead region with that of South Australia between 1905 and 1915. Though both were settler economies dependent on wheat exports, the authors find that South Australia had developed a greater ability to accumulate wealth because of its command of more linkages associated with grain production. In other words, Thunder Bay and Port Arthur did not perform the metropolitan function of Adelaide within South Australia. Finally, Michael N.A. Hinton presents calculations that suggest that--contrary to the assumptions of historian Michael Bliss and others--the protective tariff did not render the Canadian cotton industry inefficient. The author's depiction of efficiency as the constitutive force in economic life, however, underplays the importance of access to capital and markets in determining the shape of the cotton industry during the late 19th century.

The last three essays focus mainly on the post-1945 era. Greig Mordue's essay on the Canadian auto industry surveys the shifting balance between imperialism, multilateralism, and continentalism in structuring the Canadian state's efforts to grow the industry. …

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