Weetman Pearson in Mexico and the Emergence of a British Oil Major, 1901-1919
British overseas investment was one of the most powerful forces contributing to rapid global integration before World War 1. Approaching half of this total was in the form of foreign direct investment, as British entrepreneurs increasingly located their activities away from the mature domestic economy to faster growing, less-developed regions. Weetman Pearson was one of the most successful of all Britain’s overseasbased entrepreneurs of the period. Using original financial records, the paper shows how the Pearson group of companies became one of Britain’s most valuable industrial enterprises by 1919 having diversified from international contracting into the Mexican oil industry from 1901. The Pearson group highlights how British entrepreneurs were technically competent in managing large, complex infrastructure projects, able to navigate their way through various political systems, and adept at turning to whichever organisational form best suited their business interests; characteristics far removed from the outdated stereotype of the incompetent Late Victorian entrepreneur
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