Does the historical record suggests that today’s wage stagnation is temporary?

22 05 2015

Yes, according to new research by James Bessen.

Bessen argues that it’s not surprising for new technologies to be associated with stagnant wages. Indeed, something similar happened in America’s first high-tech boom: the textile industry of the mid-1800s. From 1830 to 1860, cloth production skyrocketed; wages barely budged.

But then weavers’ wages started rising. By 1900, they were more than twice their level from 40 years earlier. Bessen argues that this and other historical examples offer important lessons about the state of the labor market today.

Some people, such as economists Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, have portrayed a future in which computers destroy more and more jobs, leaving millions out of work. Bessen is skeptical. Computers obviously do eliminate some jobs, but they almost always create other jobs in the process. The tricky thing is that these new jobs often demand different skills, and workers are struggling to keep up. Still, Bessen paints a basically optimistic view of a future in which technologies mature and create new, higher-paying jobs for ordinary workers.

Hat tip to Timothy B. Lee.

Oh well, another book to put on my summer reading list.

Stefan Schwarzkopf on The Theopolitics of Markets

21 05 2015

Stefan Schwarzkopf, Associate Professor, Copenhagen Business School and active business historian, will be presenting a paper in Paris on Friday, 22 May.

The Theopolitics of Markets
Vendredi 22 mai 2015, de 11h à 13h, Salle 1, RDC, bât. Le France, 190-198 avenue de France, 75013 Paris

“Following on from the seminar on marketing and political ideology, this seminar aims at discovering an as yet hidden connection between specifically protestant religious sentiments on the one hand, and the modernization of marketing management since 1900 on the other hand. This hidden connection I call the ‘theopolitics of markets’. It can be shown that virtually all early American marketing management thinkers and marketing practitioners, including opinion pollsters and market researchers, had strong roots in Protestant sects (Wesleyan Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians). Key figures in the American movement to create wider acceptance for marketing as a ‘science’, and for advertising as a modern communication means, were either lay preachers themselves or sons of Protestant and/or Reformed preachers from the mid-West. Historical research of this kind provides us with key insights into possible explanations for why a customer-driven market ideology shares so many characteristics of a secular religion.”

Contact : Marie Chessel ( – Stefan Schwarzkopf (

Editorial Essay: What Is Organizational Research For?

19 05 2015

AS:  As a business historian who works in a management school, this editorial in the Administrative Science Quarterly reminds me of the debates within the historical profession that have been prompted by the rise of digital history, a research tradition that often involves the combination of really impressive research technologies (e.g., distant reading and the analysis of vast numbers of texts) with poorly conceived research questions.

Gerald F. Davis, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan

Organizational research is guided by standards of what journals will publish and what gets rewarded in scholarly careers. This system can promote novelty rather than truth and impact rather than coherence. The advent of big data, combined with our current system of scholarly career incentives, is likely to yield a high volume of novel papers with sophisticated econometrics and no obvious prospect of cumulative knowledge development. Moreover, changes in the world of organizations are not being met with changes in how and for whom organizational research is done. It is time for a dialogue on who and what organizational research is for and how that should shape our practice.

ESRC Seminar Series: Organizations and Society: Historicising the theory and practice of organization analysis

13 05 2015

ESRC Seminar Series

Organizations and Society: Historicising the theory and practice of organization analysis


Seminar 2


Organizational Remembering as an Alternative Framework


Wednesday 15th July 2015

School of Business and Management, Queen Mary University of London,

Mile End Campus, E1 4NS.



Keynote: Professor Andrew Hoskins, University of Glasgow

“Organizational Memory and the Archive”

Guest Speakers:

William Foster (University of Alberta)

The Role of Archivists in Creating Organizational Memory Assets

Stephanie van de Kerkhof (University of Mannheim)

Memory and Narratives of World War I and II in European Enterprise During the Cold War

Anna Linda Musacchio Adorisio (Copenhagen Business School)

Storying the Past in Banking

Debra Ramsay (University of Glasgow)

Organizational Memory and the War Diary


Michael Rowlinson (Queen Mary University of London)

Organizational Remembering as an Alternative to Organizational Memory Studies



Memory Studies and Organization Studies

Seminar Abstract:

In this session we bring together scholars from history, communication studies, and organization studies with an interest in the emerging field of organizational remembering.

Please book your place here.

My Panel at the Reading-UNCTAD International Business Conference, 13th-14th June.

8 05 2015

I’m really looking forward to my panel at the Reading-UNCTAD International Business Conference. Here are the details:

Andrew Smith, “The persistence of liberal norms in a Hong Kong-based MNE: HSBC in the first world war”
Discussant: Lucy Newton

Lucy Newton, “Multinationals, image and identity: HSBC and the construction of corporate identity through the portrait”
Discussant: Andrew Smith

Peter Miskell, “The movie multinationals: why was it only American firms that managed to compete successfully in international film markets, and how did they do it?” Discussant: Peter Scott

Peter Scott & James Walker, “When does recent experience matter in sequential location choice? The moderating role of institutional duality in outward investment from emerging country” Discussant: Peter Miskell

Modern Slavery Bill: why it won’t be enough

30 04 2015

Originally posted on Cluster and Clash: Gaming, Tehnology and Urban Culture:


‘There’s no such thing as ‘business’ ethics, just ethics.’ John C. Maxwell

With the third and final reading of the UK’s Modern Slavery Bill set for the 4th March, it was a poignant time to attend the latest seminar at the University of Liverpool’s International Business Speaker Series, ‘Modern Slavery: Law, Ethics and the Role of Business.’ The speaker was Quintin Lake, who set up Fifty Eight, a company dedicated to developing innovative ways for companies to manage their supply chains in an ethical way. He also co-founded the charity Orphans Know More, a family-focused charity based in Uganda.

Lake outlined the current situation: forced labour/modern slavery is prolific, particularly within the often complex supply chains of large, legitimate companies. It is estimated that it takes 200 people to produce one pair of Nike cross trainers for example, and tracing all of these people and ensuring their fair treatment (particularly as they…

View original 433 more words

New Book Alert: The Caribbean and the Atlantic World Economy Circuits of trade, money and knowledge, 1650-1914

30 04 2015

The Caribbean and the Atlantic World Economy Circuits of Trade, Money and Knowledge, 1650-1914

This forthcoming book contains essay that should interest some business historians. Some of the contributors include some very accomplished economic historians.

This collection of essays explores the inter-imperial connections between British, Spanish, Dutch, and French Caribbean colonies, and the ‘Old World’ countries which founded them. Grounded in primary archival research, the thirteen contributors focus on the ways that participants in the Atlantic World economy transcended imperial boundaries. The volume presents linked chapters which together examine the evolving and strengthening interconnections between the changing political economies of Europe and the Caribbean during the ‘long’ eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It brings together research by well-established authors and early-career historians. Their work, and thus this volume, above all is about the historical formation of the modern political economy to which Europe and its Caribbean territories made a significant contribution. The chapters are about the exchanges and interconnections which characterised the Atlantic World; the book as a whole is about the Atlantic World’s influence on the Caribbean, and the Caribbean’s influence on the Atlantic World.

Table Of Contents
1. Experiments In Modernity: The Making Of The Atlantic World Economy; A.B. Leonard And David Pretel
2. From Seas To Ocean: Interpreting The Shift From The North Sea-Baltic World To The Atlantic, 1650-1800; David Ormrod
3. On The Rocks: A New Approach To Atlantic World Trade, 1520-1890; Chuck Meide
4. Commerce And Conflict: Jamaica And The War Of The Spanish Succession; Nula Zahedieh
5. Baltimore And The French Atlantic: Empires, Commerce, And Identity In A Revolutionary Age, 1783-1798; Manuel Covo
6. Modernity And The Demise Of The Dutch Atlantic, 1650-1914; Gert Oostindie
7. From Local To Transatlantic: Insuring Trade In The Caribbean; A.B. Leonard
8. Slavery, The British Atlantic Economy, And The Industrial Revolution; Knick Harley
9. Commodity Frontiers, Spatial Economy, And Technological Innovation In The Caribbean Sugar Industry, 1783-1878; Dale W. Tomich
10. From Periphery To Centre: Transatlantic Capital Flows, 1830-1890; Martín Rodrigo Y Alharilla
11. Baring Brothers And The Cuban Plantation Economy, 1814-1870; Inés Roldán De Montaud
12. Circuits Of Knowledge: Foreign Technology And Transnational Expertise In Nineteenth-Century Cuba; David Pretel And Nadia Fernández-De-Pinedo
13. Afterword: Mercantilism And The Caribbean Atlantic World Economy; Martin Daunton

About the editors:

David Pretel is Post-doctoral Research Fellow in Economic History at University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain, where he lectures in the history of economic thought. Previously he was Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellow in History at European University Institute in Florence, Italy. He specialises in economic history, historical political economy, and the history of technology.

Adrian Leonard is Post-doctoral Researcher at the Centre for Financial History, University of Cambridge, UK. He has written widely on topics related to marine insurance and the Atlantic World. He is co-editor of the series The Atlantic World 1400-1850 (2014), and of Questioning Credible Commitment (2013).


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 64 other followers