When Global History Meets Business History. The International Chamber of Commerce as a Business Opportunity (1920-1960)

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) was created in 1919 in Atlantic City and has been based in Paris since 1920. From the original group of businessmen from five countries that founded the Chamber, its membership soon increased to include members from around 50 countries at the end of the 1920s. Today, ICC’s members are spread over 120 countries. The multiple activities of the Chamber are mirrored in its complex structure, as boards and technical committees shape global business practices in countless domains, from standardization to the resolution of international commercial disputes. Ever since its creation, the ICC consistently promoted free trade and globalization in the open. As an organization speaking in the name of world business, it aimed at providing global business with favorable business environment in terms of taxes and business practices.

The following paper investigates the way three companies and their representatives used the ICC networks. Why did managers of ASEA, General Electrics and Toshiba – three globally active companies of the engineering industry – actively participate into the ICC? What advantages did these companies bring to ICC? Who were the men that represented these companies? What were the risks these companies addressed by being active in these international networks?

The paper, written with Prof. Pierre-Yves Donzé from Osaka University, builds on multiple company and ICC archives in Europe, Japan, and the USA.