Page 29 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
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 of a number of Amsterdam directors to get rid of abuses which they felt had crept into the business, and there was found to be a need for a survey of the Company's business in the Netherlands as well as Asia. The work was completed in 1701 and kept secret by the directors.65
Proceedings of the Heren Zeventien
In his analysis of the management structure of the EIC, Chaudhuri writes that one of the most striking characteristics of a large enterprise is the presence of an 'independent admi- nistrative unit, which is responsible for central managerial direction'.6 6 As already mentio- ned, this central management rested in the VOC with the Heren Zeventien. But it is obvious that the Heren Zeventien had to clear quite a few hurdles before becoming such a 'professional managerial body'. For they were not a permanent group, its composition being different at every meeting, and members came from their various chambers with sometimes differing instructions and voting mandates. But to a large extent the obstacles could be overcome by a strict adherence to time schedules in decision making, so that the chambers were in no uncertainty about their allotted tasks, and by the setting up of various committees.
In the course of the seventeenth century a regular pattern developed in the schedule of meetings of the Zeventien. U p to 1751 they met three times a year, after that it became rule to meet every six months. The presiding chamber had the right of arranging the agenda. Subsequently, and completely in line with the decision making process in the public bodies of the Republic, the six chambers determined their points of view on matters on the agenda, and briefed their delegates accordingly. Often they took account of the fact that their point of view would not emerge inviolate from the meeting, so a limit was set on concessions to be made by the delegates. This system entailed that on important matters arising during the session but not on the agenda, no decision could be taken, since delegates had not been briefed on the matter.
It was to be expected that the influence of the Amsterdam chamber was great. Amster- dam, with eight seats - and characteristic of the federative character is again that in case of an incomplete delegation the chamber was still allowed eight votes - had no majority in the meeting, but its prestige was such that most of the time the smaller chambers went along with it. In controversial matters opposition usually came to a head between Amster- dam and Zeeland.6 7
The Heren Zeventien had instituted a number of committees for advice and control. Members of these committees were appointed by the directors of the chambers, as it was unthinkable in this system that the Heren Zeventien, representing as they did all chambers, should occupy themselves with the delegation of one particular chamber to any committee. These committees were not mentioned in the charter and took permanent shape towards the middle of the seventeenth century. The oldest committee dated from 1606 and was charged with 'overseeing and inspecting' the books of the chambers. Committees were then formed for preparing the annual statement, the four-yearly accounts, and one for attending and assisting with the six-monthly auctions. A committee 'for secret affairs' was
65 For the early history of Van Dam's work see the introduction by Stapel, editor of the work in the R.G.P., in Van Dam, Beschryvinge, vol. 63, IX-XXXI.
66 Chaudhuri, The trading world of Asia, 27.
67 See for example the discussions on fixing dividends in Van Dam, Beschryvinge, vol. 63,416-433.

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