British mercantile houses—privately financed commercial enterprises dealing in the import and export of goods—integrated Argentine production into the world economy between 1810 and 1880. For the time they flourished, they dominated every phase of the marketing of both British products and Argentine produce and promoted both their own profits and Argentine economic development.
Frequent changes of government, foreign and civil wars, and blockades of the port of Buenos Aires provided merchants with constant risks as well as opportunities. The limited capital and simple organization of mercantile houses suited these risks and opportunities. The author evaluates in detail business operations and decision making and analyzes the relationship between business practices and the Argentine economic and political environment. We see a business institution from the inside: the evolution of practices and procedures, the impact upon the larger economy and society.