Breaking Even: Political Economy and Private Enterprise in the Norwegian Glass Industry, 1739-1803
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonBusiness History Review. 2019, 93 (2), 275-317. 10.1017/S0007680519000631
Using internal debates and surviving account books, this article traces the eighteenth-century history of the Norwegian glass industry, created to exploit Norway’s immense natural resource wealth, and of the chartered company that would later become Norway’s iconic Christiania Glasmagasin. The investors in the company, many of them among Norway’s “founding fathers,” were individually responsible for its losses and it operated, remarkably, at an annual loss for nearly ﬁve decades. The article asks why, beyond the anticipation of a royal import ban on foreign glass, private investors might have continued to accept such losses. It focuses on tensions between cameralist and liberal ideologies in the creation of an important national industry, and on older (and perhaps more sustainable) ways of thinking about proﬁtability.