Families, business and wealth

Session organizer/s: Staffan Albinsson

‘I am doing divinely’ Jenny Lind’s financial legacy

Session: 6

Authors: Staffan Albinsson

Co-authors: NA

Abstract: TBA

Forging a cultural economy: Swedish-American publishing networks and organizations in the mid-west 1860-1880

Session: 6

Authors: Erik Thosteman

Co-authors: NA

Abstract: Ethnic newspapers have been regarded as key institutions in expanding the sense of national and ethnic community. This paper analyses two publishing businesses between 1860-1880: the Lutheran-affiliated Swedish Lutheran Publication Society, and the Svea Society-affiliated Swedish American Publication Company. Through the framework of cultural economy, the paper uses letters and newspaper sources to analyze the social and entrepreneurial networks underpinning the businesses. It argues that these networks were crucial in the organizing and the activities of the respective businesses, and that the publishing businesses were mobilized as key elements in the struggle for power over how to shape the Swedish-American community in Chicago.

Hälsokris och ekonomisk omvandling. Covid 19:s påverkan på näringslivet i Sverige.

Session: 6

Authors: Anders Houltz

Co-authors: Hans Sjögren

Abstract: Varje kris är unik, och även coronakrisen skiljer ut sig bland de industriella, finansiella och pandemiska kriser som Sverige och övriga världen upplevt under de senaste två hundra åren. Vi vet genom tidigare studier att krisers påverkan på samhället är stor, och bland annat tar sig uttryck i produktionsbortfall, långtidsarbetslöshet och kreativ destruktion. Dessutom vet vi att kriser tenderar att förstärka redan pågående förändringsprocesser, i termer av nya arbetssätt och rutiner, teknologiska språng samt nya värde- och distributionskedjor. Syftet i vårt projekt är att kartlägga och analysera hur det svenska näringslivet påverkades av coronakrisen (Covid 19). Till stöd för våra observationer och resultat äger vi tillgång till ett omfattande källmaterial, bestående av tre typer: 1) enkäter inhämtade vid åtta tillfällen; djupintervjuer med 50 personer från företag (branschmässig, geografisk och storleksmässig spridning) samt mediabevakning. Datainhämtningen har ägt rum i realtid under coronakrisen, från mars 2020 och framåt.

I vårt paper kommer vi kunna ge svar på hur företagens verksamheter påverkats på kort och lång sikt, hur omvärldsförändringar och samhällsstöd påverkat verksamheten samt hur medierapporteringen om företagen sett ut och förändrats över tid. Med våra resultat som utgångspunkt kommer vi kunna diskutera coronakrisens långsiktiga påverkan på samhället, i termer av vilka branscher som drabbats mest samt i vilken mån krisen lett till deurbanisering, hybridisering, avkontorisering och nya konsumtionsmönster.

A family affair: financial strategies and intergenerational wealth accumulation among the Swedish nobility (18th and 19th centuries).

Session: 7

Authors: Matteo Pompermaier

Co-authors: Martin Dackling

Abstract: This paper investigates intergenerational wealth accumulation in a sample of Swedish noble families over a period spanning from the mid-18th century to the early 20th century. Drawing on probate inventories, it provides insights into the financial strategies of the nobility, including investment and inheritance practices, as well as the management of a variety of assets over time. The research contributes to the literature focused on intergenerational wealth transfer and inequalities. In particular, it studies the evolution of wealth concentration and inequalities of opportunities among the top wealthiest noble families in a crucial phase in the Swedish history. The 19th century was a period of vast economic and political transformation, which resulted in a growing disparity in prestige and financial status among two different groups of nobles. The high nobility became increasingly agricultural, while the low one moved to the urban areas and converged, in their lifestyle and economic behavior, with the wealthy bourgeoisie. This paper focuses on a sample of Swedish families chosen among the top richest in 1900, and it first studies their genealogical trees from mid-18th century to the early 20th century. Then, it relies on probate inventories to study how wealth was acquired and managed over time both qualitatively and quantitatively, comparing different families as well as various branches of the same families. The research aims to answer several questions, including the role of factors such as inheritance, investments, marriages, education, and professional careers in the process of accumulation or dissipation of wealth. What distinguishes families or branches that became richer from those that did not? Was the process predetermined or did individuals, generation after generation, shape their own destiny and that of their family? Compared to the existing literature, this paper does not consider single individuals at specific time frames, but it studies the probate inventories of all the members of specific families, generation after generation. This approach allows us to: a) highlight intrafamily dynamics; b) compare how different branches of the same family manage the wealth they inherited; c) limit problems associated with intervivos gifts and other transfers of wealth that happened when individuals were still alive, and, therefore, were not listed in probate inventories. By shifting the focus from individuals to families, this research provides new insights into the role of inheritance in intergenerational wealth accumulation. Moreover, it offers a new perspective on how the Swedish aristocracy coped with the significant economic and social changes that characterize this time period.

The art of surviving as a family business – the Nordic case

Session: 7

Authors: Hans Sjögren

Co-authors: NA

Abstract: The art of surviving as a family business – the Nordic case

Nordic large family businesses have survived two world wars, waves of nationalization and numerous industrial shocks and financial crises. The external chocks have squeezed private capitalists every now and then and forced them to make a restart. The willingness, often reluctant, of both the political system and labour movement to accept asset accumulation has helped these Nordic large family businesses survive, leading to a symbiotic relationship between the national states and private capital owners. This stresses the role of the government in providing entrepreneurs with effective institutions to build private wealth. In my paper, I will use a multidisciplinary method to study the emergence of large family businesses, sometimes called family dynasties. I will demonstrate how certain national institutions have protected expansion and success of large family businesses in the region and in the international economy, and how family members have pushed for institutional change to benefit its own commercial operations. The paper will also show how strategical choices, e.g. holding on to the core business instead of diversifying, are related to their resilience. While many Nordic companies ruled by families rode the wave of restructuring from the United States in the post-war period, continuity in relation to the core business was rarely sacrificed. Holding onto the original industry, products and services have in most cases been enough and the most successful survival strategy.