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Global Electrification: Multinational Enterprise and International Finance in the History of Light and Power, 1878-2007

William J. Hausman, Peter Hertner, and Mira Wilkins


This book examines how multinational enterprises and international finance influenced the course of electrification around the world.  Multinational enterprises played a crucial role in the spread of electric light and power from the 1870s through the first three decades of the twentieth century.  But their role did not persist, as over time they exited through “domestication” (buy-outs, confiscations, or other withdrawals), so that by 1978 multinational enterprises in this sector had all but disappeared, replaced by electric utility providers with national business structures.  Yet, in recent years, there has been a vigorous revival. This book, a unique cooperative effort by the three authors and a group of experts from many countries, offers a fresh analysis of the history of multinational enterprise, taking an integrative approach, not simply comparing national electrification experiences, but supplying a truly global account. 

Table of Contents

Part I  Concepts

Chapter 1. The Invention and Spread of Electric Utilities, with a Measure of the Extent of Foreign Ownership

Chapter 2. Multinational Enterprise and International Finance

Part II  Changes

Chapter 3. Every City, 1880-1914

Chapter 4. War, the First Nationalization, Restructuring, and Renewal, 1914-1929

Chapter 5. Basic Infrastructure, 1929-1945

Part III  Conclusions

Chapter 6. Summary of the Domestication Pattern to 1978

Chapter 7. Coming Full Circle, 1978-2007, and a Global Perspective

Appendix A: Abbreviations, Acronyms, Company Names, and Variations on Company Names

Appendix B: Sources for Table 1.4, Foreign Ownership of Electric Utilities, Four Periods


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© 2008 William J. Hausman