Degree Name

Master of Philosophy


School of Business


The study investigates enterprise and entrepreneurship in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, mainly through the lens of company incorporation in the 19th century. It examines economic indicators, including gross domestic product (GDP), population and patterns for sectoral and business development, within the context of the factors of production. Newly presented data from 1,835 NSW companies incorporated from 1875 to 1899 are presented and analysed for sectoral distribution, longevity, valuation and economic significance. This study completes an examination of incorporation from the latter half of the nineteenth century. Further, it analyses four cases selected from a study of 157 NSW entrepreneurs mainly associated with company-formation data by personal and business characteristics to throw light on the nature and role of entrepreneurship.

This study of company formation is instrumental in bridging a void between economic and business history. First, it demonstrates a quantifiable connection of the economic historian’s view of the prosperous 1880s and challenged 1890s. It then recognises the changing interaction of the public and private sectors and the increasingly dominant role of incorporation capital from 1875. Not only did capital finance encourage business growth and sectoral change, but it progressively replaced the colony’s reliance on British investment. Finally, the study suggests that incorporation and related entrepreneurship were instrumental in expanding colonial business and the economy, in both scale and resilience.

FoR codes (2008)

220201 Business and Labour History

This thesis is unavailable until Friday, July 19, 2024



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.