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  • Author: Daniel Rowe, Christopher McKenna
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Case Study
  • Institution: Oxford Centre for Global History
  • Abstract: In October 1945, Alexander Fleming, Howard Florey, and Ernest Chain each received an almost identical telegram from Stockholm, Sweden. The Nobel Prize Committee, these messages read, was pleased to inform the three British-based scientists that they had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine, for the ‘discovery of penicillin and its curative action in various diseases.’ This was not surprising news. In fact, a year earlier, two major newspapers had informed their readers that Fleming would receive the prestigious award in 1944. Although the reporters’ stories were a year ahead of their time, they were right that the global scientific community had generally agreed that the world’s first antibiotic was a landmark in medical history worthy of Nobel Prize recognition. It was simply a question of when, not if, the prize would be awarded.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, History, Medicine
  • Political Geography: Sweden, Global Focus
  • Author: Oenone Kubie, Rebecca Orr, Mara Keire, Christopher McKenna
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Case Study
  • Institution: Oxford Centre for Global History
  • Abstract: On the evening of 31 January 1905, six hundred of the richest and most powerful members of New York society descended on Sherry’s Hotel dressed in extravagant costumes designed to resemble the court of the French King, Louis XV. The wealth on display was astounding. Pearls, emeralds, turquoise, and diamonds abounded. Mrs Potter Palmer, the queen of Chicago society, appeared dressed in a diamond tiara, diamond choker, and diamond breastplates. Mrs Clarence Mackay, wife of the chairman of the Postal Telegraph Company and a suffragist, wore a gold and turquoise crown and the train of her dress was so long, that despite the help of her two pages, she was forced to sit out the dancing.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, History, Capitalism, Multinational Corporations
  • Political Geography: United States, New York, France, Global Focus
  • Author: Lola Wilhelm, Oenone Kubie, Christopher McKenna
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Case Study
  • Institution: Oxford Centre for Global History
  • Abstract: The demand for infant formula in Australia is insatiable. Bare shelves have led supermarkets and chemists to ration sales, limiting the quantity customers can buy in a single transaction. But it’s not Australian parents fuelling the formula shortages. A high proportion, between fifty and ninety percent, of all Australian infant formula is exported to China. The situation has created tensions between the two countries. Australian shoppers complain of Chinese daigou (personal shoppers) buying formula before it is even stacked on shelves and stripping supermarkets in teams of people. In April 2019, eight people were arrested in Australia for stealing over a million dollars of infant formula in Sydney to sell in China. Two months later, Chinese military personnel were photographed loading boxes of formula onto a Chinese warship before departing Sydney Harbour.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, History, Capitalism, Multinational Corporations
  • Political Geography: China, Australia, Global Focus
  • Author: Jason Saldanha, James Haworth, Christopher McKenna
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Case Study
  • Institution: Oxford Centre for Global History
  • Abstract: French fur traders Médard Chouart des Groseilliers and Pierre-Esprit Radisson sensed an opportunity in the mid-1650s. During their travels within a North American trade network stretching from Montreal to the Great Lakes, the pair had heard rumours from indigenous Cree communities of a “frozen sea”: a region rich in beaver furs further to the north. The resourceful traders, aware of the European demand for luxury felt hats made from these furs, set out to explore. The two traders were not disappointed upon their arrival at the vast inland sea of Hudson Bay, discovering an abundance of high-quality furs. They quickly identified numerous rivers running from the basin that offered valuable access to the continent’s interior: if a shipping route could be forged from these locations, across the Atlantic and finally to European markets, the Hudson Bay region could re-centre the entire North American fur trade. After failing to obtain French support to establish a trading post in the area – and getting arrested upon their return to Montreal for trading without a licence – Des Groseilliers and Radisson found themselves courting English favour for their venture.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, History, Capitalism, Commodities, Trade Liberalization
  • Political Geography: United States, New York, Canada, Quebec City, Global Focus
  • Author: James Hollis, Christopher McKenna
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Case Study
  • Institution: Oxford Centre for Global History
  • Abstract: Today’s corporate managers know that while tax planning may improve the bottom line, it also carries a downside in terms of reputational risk. The past decade has seen the rise of a phenomenon dubbed “tax shaming,” with legislators, activists and the popular press condemning multinationals for participating in “aggressive” or “unethical” tax avoidance. This campaign has occasionally been associated with dramatic changes in corporate policy. In 2012, for example, the global coffee chain Starbucks announced that it was voluntarily increasing its tax payments in the United Kingdom. And the following year, one of Britain’s leading banks, Barclays, closed down its profitable tax structuring division, citing the hostile political climate. Advocates of corporate social responsibility (CSR) promote the idea of a moral dimension to tax compliance, although it remains to be seen whether firms that consciously adopt an ethical approach to tax obligations will outperform their rivals. Some skeptics dismiss the CSR agenda as a public relations exercise; others regard it as a potential threat to legal certainty or economic competitiveness. A few practitioners even claim that “tax shaming” is a dangerous step towards “taxation by mob rule.”
  • Topic: History, Capitalism, Ethics, Business , Multinational Corporations, Risk
  • Political Geography: Global Focus