Research at UCBH

UCBH has its origin in and still is a part of the Department of Economic History at Uppsala University. With the appointment of Karl-Gustaf Hildebrand (1911–2005) as the first professor in Economic History in 1953, financial and business history became a vital part of the Department’s activities. The early work within the broad and still rather undefined field of business history was focused on among other things the development of large Swedish companies such as Stora Kopparberg (wood and iron industry) and the internationalization of multinational companies such as Swedish Match. The pioneering work of Hildebrand and his followers was to a great extent aimed at mapping hitherto unknown terrain. Research questions, theories, methods and sources had to be discovered, invented or borrowed from other disciplines. This work was also a mapping of industrial society, and Swedish business history was an important part of this gigantic task.

From the mid 1980s, research has focused on, among other things, the development of so-called universal banks and the bank-industry networks within the Swedish economy. These networks were (and still partly are) a distinctive feature of the Swedish economy from the late nineteenth century onwards and created a bank-orientated financial system with significant similarities to, above all, the German financial system. A large number of conclusive studies of the Swedish case and comparisons with other European examples have also been conducted.

In the last decades research has also been conducted in the development of insurance systems and the structure and activities of savings banks. Also the growth of Swedish big business and the development of trade have been important research areas.

The UCBH has in co-operation with The Institute for Economic and Business History Research (EHFF) at the Stockholm School of Economics evolved into one of the leading European academic institutions for the study of financial and business history. At this time, i.e. the spring of 2009, between 10 and 15 researchers and doctoral students are involved in research that in some or several aspects has to do with questions that can be classified under a common theoretical and methodological umbrella. A large part of the research focuses on questions about the establishment and development of organizations and markets, primarily within the banking and financial sector of the economy. The dynamic interaction between organizations and institutions, both formal and informal, is considered an important factor in the analysis of development.