WORKSHOP: Towards an Alternative History of Banking Internationalization: Switzerland and Global Networks (19th-20th centuries)

GloCoBank researcher Marco Molteni will be giving a paper based on a case study of the Banca Commerciale Italiana at the workshop 'Towards an alternative history of banking internationalization: Switzerland and global networks (19th-20th centuries)' being held on 9 December 2022 at the University of Lausanne. The workshop is organised by GloCoBank associated researcher Thibaud Giddey, Malik Mazbouri and Sandra Bott.

Workshop abstract:

The internationalization of banking has attracted an increasing attention from many scholars. The motivations of cross-border multinational expansion have notably been investigated by business historian Geoffrey Jones, who distinguished two successive periods of multinational banking: the late 19th century and the 1960s-1970s (Jones 1990; 1995). During the 20th century, cross-border banking changed drastically into a sector dominated by megabanks that internalize a wide range of services (Kobrak 2016). However, so far, the bulk of research on the internationalization of banking has focused on the classical form of expansion, namely through branches or subsidiaries. The corollary of this emphasis is the neglect of other forms of internationalization such as correspondent banking networks, the more discreet acquisition of foreign institutions, the establishment of international banking clubs and consortia, or, in a
socio-historical approach, the internationalization of banking elites.

It is generally accepted that the international expansion of the Swiss financial centre came relatively late and only occurred in the second half of the 20th century (Cassis 1990). This interpretation is correct if we limit ourselves to the direct implantation of establishments and
branches abroad. It should be reconsidered very seriously if the historical forms taken by the globalisation of banking activities since the 19th century is taken into account. Inherited in part from the practices of private banking under the Ancien Régime, the development of
networks of correspondents, then the creation of financial companies active internationally or the acquisition of interests in foreign establishments are all common forms of internationalisation, less visible than direct investments and still little studied by research.

The aim of the workshop is to encourage further research on these neglected issues and to put the Swiss case into an international perspective. The one-day meeting seeks to initiate collaborations between the University of Lausanne and the ERC project Global Correspondent Banking conducted at the University of Oxford.