Internment in so-called ‘enemy countries’ was a frequent occurrence in the twentieth century and created significant obstacles for multinational enterprises (MNEs). This article focuses on German MNEs in India and shows how they addressed the formidable challenge of the internment of their employees in British camps during both the First and the Second World War. It finds that internment impacted business relationships in India well beyond its endpoint and that the First World War internment shaped the subsequent perception of and strategic response to the Second World War experience. It is shown that internment aggravated existing staffing challenges, impacted on the perception of racial lines of distinctions and re-cast the category ‘European business’. While internment was perceived and managed as a political risk, the case also shows that it created unexpected networking opportunities, generating a tight community of German businesspeople in India.
Bibliographical noteAlso published as a chapter in: "Indian Business in the Twentieth Century: Development within an Era of Globalisation" (Routledge, 2022).
- Political risk
- International business