Countering Political Risk in Colonial India: German Multinationals and the Challenge of Internment (1914-1947)

47 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2018

See all articles by Christina Lubinski

Christina Lubinski

Copenhagen Business School

Valeria Giacomin

Harvard Business School

Klara Schnitzer

The Boston Consulting Group

Date Written: March 2, 2018

Abstract

Internment in so-called “enemy countries” was a frequent occurrence in the twentieth century and created significant obstacles for multinational enterprises (MNEs). This article focuses on German MNEs in India and shows how they addressed the formidable challenge of the internment of their employees in British camps during both WWI and WWII. We find that internment impacted business relationships in India well beyond its endpoint and that the WWI internment shaped the subsequent perception of and strategic response to the WWII experience. We show that internment aggravated existing staffing challenges, impacted the perception of racial lines of distinctions and re-casted the category “European business.” While internment was perceived and managed as a political risk, the case also shows that it created unexpected networking opportunities, generating a tight community of German business people in India.

Suggested Citation

Lubinski, Christina and Giacomin, Valeria and Schnitzer, Klara, Countering Political Risk in Colonial India: German Multinationals and the Challenge of Internment (1914-1947) (March 2, 2018). Harvard Business School General Management Unit Working Paper No. 18-090, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3133242 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3133242

Christina Lubinski

Copenhagen Business School ( email )

Copenhagen Business School
Porcelænshaven 18A
Frederiksberg, DK-2000
Denmark

Valeria Giacomin (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Klara Schnitzer

The Boston Consulting Group ( email )

J.F. Kennedylaan 100
3741 EH Baarn
United States

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