Business Elite

Roots and Roles in Modern Society The Finnish case in the European context 1750–2000
The project studies the formation, role and self-perception of new power elite in the long-term emergence of nations, nation states and modern industrial capitalism. It concentrates on the business elite, i.e. industrialists, bankers, merchants and top executives of major corporations, analysing social roots, political and ideological role, changing positions in prevailing hierarchies, and mental portraits of the prominent business leaders, entrepreneurs, capitalists, and members of high finance.
The main objective of the research is to examine the roles and contribution of the big business in the making of modern states, national identities and main political currents. The empirical case studies of the project are focused on Finland, a small and originally peripheral nation that in spite of poor starting conditions has been able to catch up with the European forerunners of industrial development. As a result of this transformation, a number of the Finnish industrial corporations have become multinational world leaders of their branch with a presumably strong influence over the political power structures of Finland.
The research will use, refine and develop the results and findings of the previous projects, such as Elites and Social Change: Family Strategies and Networks of Power 1500–2000 (Academy of Finland), and Big Business, Small Nation: The Political Economy of the Finnish Forest Industries (University of Helsinki). Yet further studies are needed in order to reach better knowlegde and understanding of political issues, as well as of other periods of history and other big business actors than timber, paper and pulp industrialists.
The combination of social, cultural, political and business history approaches constitutes the basic methodological framework of the research. A clear focus on the actor-structure perspective is common for all case studies of the team, as well as comparative perspective where local/regional (Finnish) cases are studied in their larger international context, and as integral parts of the world system.
Research group: Markku Kuisma (leader), Niklas-Jensen-Eriksen, Teemu Keskisarja, Elina Kuorelahti,  Aleksi Mainio, Kari-Matti Piilahti, Alex Snellman, Charlotta Wolf, Maiju Wuokko, Jouni Yrjänä