The Origins of Business, Money and Markets

The Origins of Business, Money and Markets

Hardback Columbia Business School Publishing

By (author) Keith Roberts

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  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 368 pages
  • Dimensions: 160mm x 229mm x 33mm | 680g
  • Publication date: 1 July 2011
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0231153260
  • ISBN 13: 9780231153263
  • Illustrations note: 6 illus., 16 tables
  • Sales rank: 844,172

Product description

Understanding the origins of business is fundamental to grasping modern life, yet most historians look no further than the nineteenth century for their narratives. While the industrial revolution profoundly shaped business practice and much of the corporate organization we recognize today, the full sweep of business history actually begins much earlier, with the initial cities of Mesopotamia. In the first book to describe and explain those origins, Roberts travels back to the society of ancient traders and consumers, recasting the rise of modern business and underscoring the parallels between early and modern business practice. Roberts's narrative begins five thousand years ago in the Middle East, explaining why prehistoric tribes had no "business." He describes the lack of material conditions and conceptual framework that made such an interchange impossible, and then locates the origins of business in the long distance trade of ancient Mesopotamia, especially within its slave trading, retailing, and financing practices. He maps the rise of modern models of currency, markets, and business in Greece, along with the emergence of banking, mercenaries, and reliable small coinage, and he follows the conquests of Alexander the Great, which brought these advances to the Mediterranean world and the Middle East. With the growth of agribusiness, Romans developed public contracting, corporations, and even shopping malls, yet in the third century A.D., business mysteriously, virtually disappeared. In each of his chapters, Roberts portrays the major types of business thriving within a certain era and the status, wealth, and treatment of business owners, managers, and workers. He focuses on issues of business morality, the nature of wealth, the role of finance, and the development of public institutions shaping business possibilities, advancing an absorbing account of a long neglected history.

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Author information

Keith Roberts is a graduate of Harvard College, Harvard Law School, and the Harvard Business School's Program in Venture Capital. He has served as president of the Preservation Group, a San Francisco-based real estate firm; Roberts Proprietaries, Inc., a manufacturing and distribution company; and other firms. He is an arbitrator for the Financial Industries Regulatory Authority and in the New York court system. William H. McNeill is a noted world historian and professor emeritus of history at the University of Chicago. The recipient of a National Humanities Medal, he is the author of many books, including The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community, which won a National Book Award for history.

Review quote

Keith Roberts knows his history and is highly informed on the nature of today's comparable instruments and institutions. By placing his story within changing political, social, and cultural settings and by presenting it in a fascinating, well-written way unencumbered by technical jargon, he opens a new field in the discipline of business history. -- Alfred D. Chandler, emeritus, Harvard Business School, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Bancroft Prize for history Business history has largely ignored the ancient world, while in fact there is considerable evidence that business played an important in it. This book provides an accessible, well written validation of this argument. -- Karl Moore, Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University An excellent book. Booklist Roberts's well-documented, readable book provides valuable insight into the past and lessons for the present...highly recommended. Choice

Table of contents

Foreword, by William H. McNeillPrefaceList of TermsIntroduction1 Business in the Ancient Middle East1. The Beginning2. Middle Eastern Empires, 1600-323 B.C.E.2 Business in Ancient Greece3. Markets and Greece4. Business in Athens5. Hellenistic History: Prologue to Revolution6. The Hellenistic Business Environment7. Hellenistic Business3 Business in Ancient Rome8. The Early Roman Republic9. The Late Roman Republic, 201-31 B.C.E.10. The Principate, 31 B.C.E.-192 C.E.11. Roman Society12. Roman Businesses13. The Downfall of Ancient BusinessConcluding NoteNotesBibliographyIndex