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Business and International Order

in collaboration with Prof Thomas David and Dr Pierre Eichenberger, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

Since the early 20th century, the idea of “business internationalism” has played a significant role in shaping the influence of business interests in the sphere of international relations, not least through intergovernmental bodies that ostensibly represent the world’s nation-states. In 1919, the International Chamber of Commere emerged as a shadow bureaucracy, intrepidly mirroring the interests and efforts of the Legue of Nations’ system. By the 1970s, the UN was actively courting business in support of its global governance agenda. Yet, we know surprisingly little about the way businessmen, businesswomen, and business circles engaged with key international organisations in a century that was characterised by their rapid expansion.  


‘Business and International Order’ sheds an innovative light on these issues by analysing, how business interacted with international organizations at different moments in the 20th century. The project asks the following questions: How and why did  “businessmen,” “businesswomen”, and business circles from both the Global North and the Global South engage international organaizations? Who were these actors and what were their political and personal goals? What configurations of economic theory and policy informed their actions? How effective were they? And why were international organizations interested in their support?


We will present our research on 'Business and International Order' at the WHA Annual Conference in Bilbao, 23-25 June 2022  

CfP 'Business and International Order' Workshop, EUI, 27-28 October 2022  


Prof Thomas David

Thomas David is Professor of International History at the University of Lausanne. For the past ten years, Thomas has been working  on the Swiss and transnational elite during the 20th century. Together with Pierre Eichenberger, Thomas is currently writing the first monograph on the post-1945 history of the International Chamber of Commerce, entitled ‘Businessmen of the World, Unite!’ The International Chamber of Commerce and the Rise of Global Capitalism in the Twentieth Century’. The book aims to uncover the role of this unique non-governmental international organization in the rise of global capitalism. In doing so, it contributes to better understanding the way leading businesspeople meet internationally to promote their interests

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Dr Pierre Eichenberger

Pierre Eichenberger is a permanent lecturer (Maître d’enseignement et de recherche) in international history at the Institute of Political Studies, at the University of Lausanne. Pierre is a historian of capitalism and business associations who is also interested in the history of social classes and inequalities.


Dr Geraldine Sibanda

Geraldine Sibanda is a historian of African economic history who received her PhD from the University of Free State, South Africa (2021). Geraldine’s research analyses the various economic and monetary crises Zimbabwe has traversed since 1980, particularly through her PhD thesis, entitled ‘Finance, Economic Planning and Power in Zimbabwe, 1980-2013’. 



ECOINT Postdoc Fellow

guilherme.sampaio AT

Dr Guilherme Sampaio

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