Monika Poettinger

German entrepreneurs in nineteenth century Milan Merchant spirit, social capital and industrialization

  • Abstract

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Keywords:

During the nineteenth century entrepreneurial migrations were a continent - and possibly world - wide phenomenon that had less to do with the absence of entrepreneurial forces in a certain location as with the circulation of human, entrepreneurial and venture capital triggered by the existence of far reaching networks of commercial origin. This was particularly true for Lombardy. Milan and its economic space were the recipients of direct investments of banks and merchant houses located in Switzerland, France and Germany and Lombardy's enterprises were often part of this kind of "verlagssystem" connections. These international networks organised production factors, circulated innovations, aided entrepreneurial migrations, managed risk, profited from market imperfections: absolved the entrepreneurial function. German entrepreneurs in Milan are a perfect example of the working and the successfulness of these networks. They were interlinked by religion and ascendancy but also created local networks based on faith and reinforced by marriages and common investments. They were in fact one of the driving forces behind the transformation of the local conservative socioeconomic structure into an innovative and vital "wirtschaftsbu_rgertum", capable of financing and managing the new factories and bringing Lombardy at the centre of the continental industrial revolution. This social capital was surely the most important legacy left by the operating of international networks and the immigration of foreign entrepreneurs in Milan during the nineteenth century.

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