Two sides of a company. How VOC slave trading in Africa developed while the Cape Colony suffered
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It is relatively unknown how deep the Dutch involvement in the Indian Ocean slave trade was. To help illuminate this part of history, this thesis focuses on the role of the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC) in their understudied south-African possession: The Cape Colony. It will be compared how the two operations of slave trade and settlement management that the VOC was involved in developed differently. To argue how the VOC could neglect settlement management while it developed its slave trading practices, the causal narrative method will be used. With this method, a holistic, picture will be created. It will be argued that the hierarchy, rules, and discipline of the VOC were dominated by a business operation in which the profit motive prevailed. That profit motive created the need to optimize the processes of the slave trade. This succeeded because these processes were subject to institutional layering. The Cape Colony did not fit the profit motive, creating a poorly managed and poorly controllable settlement. Here, the elite ruled, converting the ambiguous legal foundation to a legal system designed for their own gain. As a result, the settlement could not develop further. These were the two faces of the VOC: a company that was successful at innovating trading practices, but which neglected its settlements because they were not part of their main interests.