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Evan Davis on... American capitalism

Updated Thursday 18th June 2009

Isn't pizza an Italian invention? After The Bottom Line looked at pizza, Evan Davis wonders how it joined hamburgers and cappuccino as successes for American capitalism.

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Copyright The Open University

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Copyright The Open University

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What does pizza tell us about the world of business?

Well here’s one thought: pizza is an Italian cuisine that has gone global, it’s probably the most popular food product on the planet, and yet it’s the Americans who seem to have taken it around the globe. Pizza Hut, for example, part of the Yum Corporation that spun off from PepsiCo.

Now it’s not the only example, isn’t it the Americans who have made hamburgers famous globally and yet don’t hamburgers have some connection to the German town of Hamburg?

Cappuccinos taken around the world from Italy by the American corporation Starbucks, even jeans made of denim which I think has its origin in the French town of Nimes.

What is it that the Americans have got that allows them to take European products and corporatise and profit from them so successfully?

Well, shareholder capitalism has lots of flaws, Anglo-Saxon capitalism of that kind, but one thing it does seem to be able to do is to take a product, put it in to a company, grow that company, fund it and make it go global.

That’s my view, you can join the debate with the Open University.

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