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Palgrave Macmillan

The Dutch Paper Industry from 1580 to the Present

The Survival of a Long-Established Industry

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  • © 2024

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  • Provides a long-run economic analysis of the Dutch paper industry through various phases of capitalism
  • Situates the Dutch paper industry in wider national and global networks of trade and production

Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in Economic History (PEHS)

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About this book

This open access book is the first to provide an analysis of the Dutch paper industry over a period encompassing six centuries. Responding to a trend of renewed scholarly interest in paper industries and production, the book seeks to illuminate the factors behind this relatively small national industry’s centuries-long survival.

Previous historical research has shown that sets of colonial, trade, merchant and family networks, tightly interwoven through a dense web of capital, were crucial for paper production and trade in early modern Europe. This book situates the Dutch paper industry within these overlapping contexts and their shifting dynamics over time, and historicizes the challenges and obstacles it had to overcome through four phases of capitalism: the rise of Dutch capitalism (1580–1815), Dutch monarchic liberalism (1815–1914), Fordism (1914–1980), and post-Fordism (1980 until now). Each chapter covers not only technological advancements in the industry, but its development alongside further determining dimensions, such as state-industry relations (industry policies), labour-capital relations (unions) and competition and cooperation, overall painting a picture of how the industry adapted to and endured changes in national and global networks surrounding the industry. This book will be of broad interest to scholars of economic and business history, as well as industrial history, political economy, and management studies.

“This publication was supported by funds from the Publication Fund for Open Access Monographs of the Federal State of Brandenburg, Germany.”


Table of contents (6 chapters)


The Dutch Paper Industry from 1580 to the Present is not your typical history book. By taking a historical materialist approach to expose the complicity between capitalism and networks, Martha E. Ehrich makes an invaluable contribution to current economic history scholarship. Utilizing the century-old craft of paper making in the Netherlands as an empirical case, the book guides readers through every stage of the development of this industry, providing a captivating explanation of how and why capitalist class fractions intersect in networks to navigate the (in-)stability of industrial capital. This is essential reading for everyone who is interested in critical analyses of the global paper industry and the history of capitalist development more generally.

- Professor Steffen Boehm, Professor in Organisation and Sustainability at the University of Exeter Business School, UK

Authors and Affiliations

  • Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF, Potsdam, Germany

    Martha Emilie Ehrich

About the author

Martha Emilie Ehrich is a postdoctoral researcher at the Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf in Germany, researching gender equity policies in the film industry. Having completed a PhD at Radboud University in the Netherlands, Ehrich’s primary research interests span network research, economic history and political economy.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: The Dutch Paper Industry from 1580 to the Present

  • Book Subtitle: The Survival of a Long-Established Industry

  • Authors: Martha Emilie Ehrich

  • Series Title: Palgrave Studies in Economic History

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham

  • eBook Packages: Economics and Finance, Economics and Finance (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2024

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-031-54323-4Published: 01 March 2024

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-031-54324-1Published: 29 February 2024

  • Series ISSN: 2662-6497

  • Series E-ISSN: 2662-6500

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XIII, 149

  • Number of Illustrations: 5 b/w illustrations

  • Topics: Economic History, Economic Growth, History of Technology

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