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IBS Lunchtime Research Seminar - Britain’s interwar millionaire elite, their business models, and welfare impacts

Henley Live Tree
Event information
Date 24 January 2024
Time 13:00-14:30 (Timezone: Europe/London)
Price Free
Venue Henley Business School, Whiteknights Campus
Event types:

You are cordially invited to attend an International Business and Strategy Departmental Research Meeting, during which there will be a presentation by Frank Barry, Trinity Business School, Dublin. A reminder that attendance for IBS (full time, research oriented) staff and full-time students is compulsory, and where possible, must be in person. Individuals unable to attend in person, due to legitimate reasons will be provided a Teams link on request. Non-IBS staff are welcome to attend, but must register prior to the event. If you have not received the email invite please email Angie Clark

Please join us in Room 108, Henley Business School, if you would like to attend, please register using the link below:

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Please make sure you let me know in advance if you intend to attend in person so that the correct amount of catering is booked.

Date: Wednesday 24th January 2024, HBS Room 108

Time: 13.00 - 14.15pm


We examine Britain’s economic elite during the late 1920s, based on its “millionaires,’ using a unique dataset that captures 78.1 percent of the 438 individuals with declared incomes of £50,000 or more in the 1928/9 tax year (or equivalent capital). While economic elites are typically defined in terms of “command positions,” rather than wealth, our analysis shows that the overwhelming majority of UK millionaires were, or had been in, command positions – either top executives in companies, or owning landed estates. We find that most millionaires can be classified into a relatively small number of generic business models. The First World War and the 1920s saw substantial changes in the relative prosperity of these business models, with older forms of wealth – from land, the staple industries, and the City – declining compared to newer industries and domestically-orientated services. Within this group, strategies to develop monopoly power were becoming more prevalent, while entrepreneurs whose fortunes were based on “disruptive innovation” (even using a broad definition of the term) comprised only a relatively small proportion of the millionaire class. We also explore the human capital characteristics associated with each business model, using proxies for inherited advantages (elite school/university attendance); establishment status (a Who’s Who entry); socialization (gentleman’s club membership); and business connectivity (numbers of directorships).

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