Global Electrification. Multinational Enterprise and International Finance in the History of Light and Power, 1880s-1914
This work is part of a long-term research project on global electrification. Here we focus on the initial phase of electrification, from the 1880s to 1914, when multinational enterprise and international finance played a crucial role. Electrical equipment manufacturers were first movers in the establishment of operating electric utilities; however, since electric power facilities were highly capital intensive, outside investors needed to be brought in. Utility holding companies with very complex capital structures became major players in the establishment of electric utilities around the world, as did British “free-standing” companies. We discuss some of the European and British companies that brought light and power to the cities of the world.