Coleman Prize Winner Announced

29 06 2020

The Coleman Prize is named in honour of the British Business Historian Donald Coleman, this prize is awarded annually by the Association of Business Historians to recognise excellence in new research in Britain. It is open to PhD dissertations in Business History either having a British subject or completed at a British University. All dissertations completed in the previous two calendar years to that of their submission are eligible (with the exception of previous submissions). It is a condition of eligibility for the Prize that shortlisted finalists will present their findings at the Association’s annual conference.

This year’s prize was awarded to Akram Beniamin for his dissertation “Cotton, Finance and Business Networks in a Globalised World: The Case of Egypt during the first half of the Twentieth century”.



My thesis investigated commodity networks, foreign banking and foreign business networks, as three manifestations of the first global economy, in Egypt. The country was well integrated into the world economy by exporting cotton, importing foreign capital, and hosting a large foreign community. The study shows that the Egyptian cotton network was sophisticated as market participants were spatially dispersed. The network was instrumentally coordinated by foreign banks that provided the crucial function of intermediating the flows of cotton, finance, and information. The thesis demonstrates that the history of foreign banks in Egypt does not conform to the imperialism and exploitation rhetoric. Foreign banks were businesses that sought profits and faced many risks and challenges. Some risks were uncontrollable and negatively affected bank performance, which was shaped by trade-off between opportunity and risk appetite. The analysis of the interlocking directorates of the Egyptian corporate and elite networks establishes that these networks, predominantly controlled by local foreigners, served as a basis for coordinating and maintaining collective interests. The structure of the elite network presumably fostered entrepreneurial activities that were funded by foreign capital. The analysis documents the gradual rise of indigenous entrepreneurs at the expense of foreigners.

About the winner:


Akram Beniamin is a Teaching Fellow in International Business & Strategy at Henley Business School. He holds a PhD from Henley Business School (2020), an MSc in Development Finance from the University of Reading (2012), and a BA in Management from Sadat Academy for Management Sciences, Egypt (2002).

Akram’s broad research interests focus on business history, entrepreneurship and international business in developing countries. His doctoral thesis investigated commodity networks, foreign banking and business networks, as three manifestations of the first global economy of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, in Egypt. His research has been presented in many international conferences, such as the Business History Conference, Association of Business Historians, and Reading-UNCTAD International Business Conference

Akram is a tutorial leader on two modules: Business Statistics (MM1F13) and Markets, Marketing and Strategy (MM1F12). He also was a tutorial leader on a number of financial and managerial accounting modules delivered by Business Informatics, Systems and Accounting at Henley Business School.

Akram is a CFA charter holder and before pursuing an academic career, he spent ten years in the banking industry in Egypt where he worked for multinational and state-owned banks spanning Corporate Banking and Credit Risk for both large corporates and SMEs.




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