ABSTRACT

Overseas business was far more than simply managing trade exchanges from the top down. Business, in Europe and overseas, included several competing, overlapping, and collaborating networks, which could change rapidly if the different participants of the networks decided to enter, leave, support, or even betray them. The chapter investigates the power relations of social networks, in which individuals participated related to overseas business. Although people in the seventeenth century did not use the term “networks,” they were nonetheless aware of the different sets of connections that linked them personally to others. As such, the management and optimal balancing of connections were crucial to career opportunities and economic success. Thus, when a social perspective on overseas entrepreneurship is applied, it becomes clear why individuals struggled to survive and why their entire careers revolved around uncertainty.