Business Enterprises and Entrepreneurship
Edited by Geoffrey Jones and Andrea Lluch
Chapter 1: Business groups in nineteenth and twentieth century Argentina
From the mid-1800s to the early twenty-first century, the Argentine economy passed through several phases in terms of performance, economic structure and institutional framework. Argentina shifted from an open, deregulated economy (1870–1914) to one that was more closed and state-regulated (1914–75), and after a halting transition to greater liberalization (1976–90), the country plunged into a pro-market reform process in the 1990s that, in turn, came to an end with a major crisis in 2001. Throughout these major political and economic shifts and crises, diversified business groups have remained the prevailing organizational pattern adopted by large local private companies in the country, as in many other late-developing countries in and outside of Latin America. Although they co-existed as business groups with stand-alone domestic firms, multinational enterprise (MNE) affiliates and state-owned enterprises, they have remained prominent and sometimes pre-eminent features of the Argentinian business landscape. This chapter will explore the circumstances that led to the emergence and development of business groups in Argentina, identifying prevailing types at specific periods, and exploring the determinants of their predominant role among domestic private large firms. It draws upon new research conducted over recent decades, and offers case studies on several large business groups.