Updated CV

31 01 2016

I have uploaded an updated Curriculum Vitae. It’s been a long time since I added new publications to my CV on WordPress, so I thought an update was in order!

The Engine of Enterprise: Credit in America

26 01 2016



New Book Alert: The Engine of Enterprise: Credit in America  by Rowena Olegario is Senior Research Fellow at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.Harvard University Press (February 15, 2016)


American households, businesses, and governments have always used intensive amounts of credit.The Engine of Enterprise traces the story of credit from colonial times to the present, highlighting its productive role in building national prosperity. Rowena Olegario probes enduring questions that have divided Americans: Who should have access to credit? How should creditors assess borrowers’ creditworthiness? How can people accommodate to, rather than just eliminate, the risks of a credit-dependent economy?

In the 1790s Alexander Hamilton saw credit as “the invigorating principle” that would spur the growth of America’s young economy. His great rival, Thomas Jefferson, deemed it a grave risk, inviting burdens of debt that would amount to national self-enslavement. Even today, credit lies at the heart of longstanding debates about opportunity, democracy, individual responsibility, and government’s reach.

Olegario goes beyond these timeless debates to explain how the institutions and legal frameworks of borrowing and lending evolved and how attitudes about credit both reflected and drove those changes. Properly managed, credit promised to be a powerful tool. Mismanaged, it augured disaster. The Engine of Enterprise demonstrates how this tension led to the creation of bankruptcy laws, credit-reporting agencies, and insurance regimes to harness the power of credit while minimizing its destabilizing effects.

New Paper Alert: Using history in the creation of organizational identity”

24 01 2016

AS: I would like to draw your attention to an important new paper in the forthcoming Special Issue: Re-visiting the Historic Turn 10 years later: Current Debates in Management and Organizational History

Mike Zundel (University of Liverpool Management School), Robin Holt (Copenhagen Business School) & Andrew Popp (University of Liverpool Management School), “Using history in the creation of organizational identity.”

Abstract: Organizations frequently draw on history as a resource, for instance when attempting to establish or maintain identity claims. However, little has been done to review the advantages and problems of such use of history and it is not clear how using history impacts on the appreciation of history itself and, ultimately, on the insights that may be gained when engaging with the past. To begin to address these questions we distinguish two related uses of history as a resource for organizational identity: as a means of committing external audiences and, as a way of finding inward commitment. We theorize these two uses by drawing on speech act theory to develop a taxonomy of uses of history and to elaborate the opportunities and challenges that come when historical narratives are fashioned in the service of identity. We conclude with a further insight gained from speech act theory that suggests an engagement with history that requires sensitivity to prevailing conventions at the moment of these historical acts. We argue that appreciation of asynchronous historical conditions and contexts affords new insights through the difference these pose to current and instrumental concerns that otherwise guide the fashioning and interpretation of historical ‘facts.’

How Does Davos Man Use History to Make Sense of New Technologies?

22 01 2016

The World Economic Forum is currently underway in Davos. The great and the good are gathered there to discuss the future of the world economy. The term Davos Man is often applied to the elites who gather there. I’ve used that moniker in the title of this blog post, even though I know it is somewhat misleading because it suggests a degree of cognitive uniformity among the very heterogeneous group of individuals at Davos. There does appear to be a herd mentality and an element of group think at this event.

The theme of this year’s WEF is technology, specifically, the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.” This label is being applied to a grab bag of technologies that includes Big Data, 3D printers, advances in biotechnology, and self-driving cars. Whether the term Fourth Industrial Revolution makes any sense is an issue I will leave to another blog post. The crucial thing for our purposes it that the concept has caught on life wildfire.  It is interesting that Professor Klaus Schwab and the other Davos organizers have chosen a title for this year’s gathering that is so rich in historical significance: the term Fourth Industrial Revolution evokes previous Industrial Revolutions which, as every schoolchild knows, has massive economic, social, and political consequences.


Professor Schwab develops this historical analogy in his new book, where he writes:

Previous industrial revolutions liberated humankind from animal power, made mass production possible and brought digital capabilities to billions of people. This Fourth Industrial Revolution is, however, fundamentally different. It is characterized by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.



In the last few days, the term Fourth Industrial Revolution has been thrown around in the press and the blogosphere. The meme has gone global: see here, here, and here. Two days ago, Hewlett Packard Labs posted some ideas about strategies for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  The blog  post included this image:


Larry Hatheway, the Chief Economist of GAM Holding, developed this historical analogy in his syndicated column about the WEF2016 theme. He wrote:

The First Industrial Revolution was based on the steam engine. James Watt’s invention, introduced around 1775, powered the nineteenth-century expansion of industry from its origins in England to Europe and the United States. The Second Industrial Revolution, from the last third of the nineteenth century to the outbreak of World War I, was powered by developments in electricity, transportation, chemicals, steel, and (especially) mass production and consumption. Industrialization spread even further – to Japan after the Meiji Restoration and deep into Russia, which was booming at the outset of World War I…

James Watt is getting a lot of publicity this week. Why have so many people picked up on this concept of the Fourth Industrial Revolution? Why are so many journalists, policymakers, and businesspeople trying to use analogies with past Industrial Revolutions to try to predict the future?  We are all familiar with the fact that investment prospectuses say, past performance is no guarantee of future results. We all know that history doesn’t repeat itself although sometimes it rhymes.  However, in moments of radical uncertainty, we tend to gravitate to the past as a sensemaking tool. Whether it is a good analytical device is a separate issue.

Individuals frequently employ historical-analogic reasoning and historical periodization to make sense of the unfamiliar.  The trajectory of change in industries characterized by incremental innovation is relatively easy to predict.  In contrast, radically disruptive technologies are an important source of uncertainty for economic actors ( see the academic research by Sainio, Ritala, & Hurmelinna-Laukkanen, 2012; Petrakis, Kostis, & Kafka, 2015). It is not, therefore, surprising to see observers, particularly journalists, economists, and CEOs who necessarily lack detailed specialist knowledge of the specifics of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” technologies, gravitate towards historical analogies as a sensemaking tool.

If you are interested in the more general issue of how ideas about history shape the strategies of economic actors, my recent article, which was co-authored with Jason Russell, can serve as a gateway in the literature.


Update: To date, none of the economic historians in the academic blogosphere have ventured any comments about whether the concept of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is valid or simply a marketing gimmick. Seems like a wasted opportunity/teachable moment.




Petrakis, P. E., Kostis, P. C., & Kafka, K. I. (2015). Secular stagnation, faltering innovation, and high uncertainty: New-era entrepreneurship appraisal using knowledge-based thinking. Journal of Business Research.

Hill, R. C., & Levenhagen, M. (1995). Metaphors and mental models: Sensemaking and sensegiving in innovative and entrepreneurial activities.Journal of Management21(6), 1057-1074.

Sainio, L. M., Ritala, P., & Hurmelinna-Laukkanen, P. (2012). Constituents of radical innovation—exploring the role of strategic orientations and market uncertainty. Technovation32(11), 591-599.



What Lessons Do CEOs Take From Historians?

19 01 2016


As readers of this blog will know, I’m interested in how history is used by businesspeople to make sense of the present.  People in all walks of life use history, especially historical analogies, to understand what they see.  As Paul Ricoeur correctly argued,  ideas about history play an important role in how  people understand the present and strategies for the future.  They are a core part of human cognition.

Within management and organisation studies, increasing attention is now being paid to how history is used by economic actors. As a result, we’ve recently seen lots of great research on topics such as how companies create “usable pasts,” how incorrect historical analogies contributed to the 2008 financial crisis, and how history is used to sell products. However, I’ve noticed that we haven’t yet seen much research on how the decision-makers at the very apex of organisations think about history and apply historical reasoning to the managerial problems. The one exception to this generalization is an important 2013 paper by Kroeze and Keulen, which was based on interviews with Dutch C-Suite executives.

Management scholars can learn a great deal from political scientists, who have long debated the importance of historical-analogic reasoning in the thinking of high-ranking political leaders. For instance, Khong (1992) documented the widespread use of the analogy with Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler in the discussions in the White House that led the United States to escalate the Vietnam War in 1965. Khong showed that President Lyndon Johnson and his advisors viewed the Vietnam conflict through the lens of a historical analogy with appeasement in the 1930s. The use of this analogy, which was probably a misleading one, caused Johnson to escalate the US involvement in Vietnam.  The key point here is that historical ideas, both when they are right and when they are wrong, can have a major influence over decisions. I suppose the chief barrier in applying Khong’s research methodology to understand the historical ideas of decision-makers in the private sector is access to raw data: unlike US Presidents, who communicate their historical ideas in a vast number of texts that became available to researchers either immediately or eventually, CEOs are typically pretty guarded with their thoughts. CEOs generate less public-domain source material for us to work with.

The reading habits of executives provide us with some insights into their historical ideas.  A few weeks ago Bloomberg published a very interesting article the dealt with the reading habits of some of the most powerful decision-makers in the world. Fifty key decision-makers, most of whom were in the private sector, were asked which 2015 books they would recommend.  The 50 contributors included “former U.S. Treasury secretaries Lawrence Summers and John Snow, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, HSBC Chief Executive Officer Stuart Gulliver, Ellevate Network Chair Sallie Krawcheck, and hedge fund titan Jim Chanos.”

The book that appeared most frequently on their reading lists was Ben Bernanke’s The Courage to Act, which is essentially a memoir of the 2008 financial crisis. That’s not surprising at all, especially since some of the Bloomberg 50 were mentioned in Bernanke’s book. Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction by Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner was another popular book among these titans of business.  However,  I was struck by the number of historical works that had been read by CEOs in 2015. For instance, both of the book recommended by Dominic Barton, the global managing director of McKinsey, were by historians: History’s People: Personalities and the Past by Margaret MacMillan and The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan. James Chanos, the founder of  Kynikos Associates, said that Professor Valerie Hansen’s The Silk Road: A New History had inspired him to read another history book, William Manchester’s A World Lit Only by Fire. Stuart Gulliver, the CEO of HSBC, recommended Hiroshima Nagasaki: The Real Story of the Atomic Bombings and Their Aftermath by Paul Ham.

Many of these business professionals said that these works by historians offered important lessons for the present. For instance, Abby Joseph Cohen, an investment strategist at Goldman Sachs said that Stacy Schiff’s book on the Salem Witch Trial is “a 17th century lesson for today.” In addition to these explicitly historical books were a number of books that had a lot of historical content in them, most obviously the economist John Kay’s Other People’s Money: The Real Business of Finance.

I haven’t had time to systematically read through all of the historical books on the list to see what sort take-home lessons, implicit or explicit, are communicated by the authors. Given the variety of ongoing research projects and other commitments I have right now, I just wouldn’t be able to analyse these texts properly.  However, it occurs to me that this might be a worthwhile research project for someone else who shares my interest in how historical idea shape business.  Ideally, the work of researching and writing up a paper on this topic would be a team effort. What I would be most interested in knowing is:

  1. Two of the history books on this list deal with the famous Silk Road trade route. What do these historical works suggest about the future relationship between China and the West? Would these historical narratives encourage a reader to adopt a relatively optimistic view of the future or would they push the reader towards believing that the US and China are doomed to fall into the Thucydides’s Trap?
  2. What, if anything, do these books say about the ability of humans in the past to respond to environmental change?
  3. Do these works of history present a Whiggish metanarrative of progress (Francis Fukuyama style) or do they present cyclical conceptions of historical time in which civilizations periodically regress into barbarism? Personally, I would want my money to be managed by a mutual fund manager who is guardedly optimistic about the future.

Kroeze, R., & Keulen, S. (2013). Leading a multinational is history in practice: The use of invented traditions and narratives at AkzoNobel, Shell, Philips and ABN AMRO. Business history55(8), 1265-1287.

Canadian Federalism: Double Update

13 01 2016

As long-time readers of this blog will know, the economic dimensions of Canada’s federal system remains one of my research interests. In fact, the role of British business in the creation of the Canadian federation in 1867 was the subject of my PhD thesis long ago.

I now want to share two important pieces of news related to the theme of Canadian federalism.

First, the Institute for Research on Public Policy, which is probably Canada’s most respected economic think-tank, has just published a new “Policy Options Podcast”that is an interview with my co-author Jatinder Mann. In the interview, Jatinder talks about our new Queen’s University IIGR  working paper, “Federalism and Sub-National Protectionism: a Comparison of the Internal Trade Regimes of Canada and Australia.” The paper seeks to explain why Australia’s has had greater success than Canada in achieving internal free trade. (As many Canadian business people will know, there are many internal trade barriers that restrict commerce between the constituent units of the Canadian federation). You can read the full paper here.  Here is a link to Jatinder’s academic profile.

Second, Ged Martin, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Edinburgh, has published a thought-provoking paper on the concept of the Fathers of Confederation. When Canadians talk about the architects of the 1867 constitution, they often use this term, which has a meaning that is somewhat similar to that of “the Founding Fathers” is US political and legal discourse. The provocative argument of Professor Martin’s paper is that this term no longer serves any worthwhile purpose and should be abandoned. Historian Christopher Moore, who uses this term Fathers of Confederation is his new book on Confederation, has written a robust response to Martin’s argument.




EGOS: (SWG) History and Organization Studies: The Ways Forward

8 01 2016

There are 4 days left to submit your EGOS short paper to SWG8!

If you have never been to EGOS – the system does not accept any late submissions, so please make sure that you have paid your EGOS membership and submitted your paper by Monday 11 January 2016!

Sub-theme 08: (SWG) History and Organization Studies: The Ways Forward

Daniel Wadhwani, University of the Pacific, USA, and Copenhagen Business School, Denmark


Matthias Kipping, Schulich School of Business, York University, Canada


Stephanie Decker, Aston Business School, UK


Call for Papers

Historical sources, methods, and theoretical constructs have gained considerable attention in management and organizational studies in recent years (Üsdiken & Kipping, 2014). Researchers have mades a range of notable conceptual (Bucheli & Wadhwani, 2014; Rowlinson et al., 2014) and empirical contributions (O’Sullivan & Graham, 2010; Rowlinson et al., 2014; Kipping & Üsdiken, 2014) that have laid the foundations for a diverse array of approaches to historical research and reasoning in organization studies. Moreover leading journals, such as Organization Studies and Academy of Management Review, have supported these developments by announcing special issues devoted to historical research and theory. Indeed, one could fairly state that the nature and value of historical research has come to be more broadly understood and accepted than when the EGOS Standing Working Group (SWG) on “Historical Perspectives in Organization Studies” was formed.

In this, the final year of the SWG 08, we seek a broad range of empirical papers that explicitly build on the foundations that have been established but move the conversation between history and organization studies forward in interesting and novel ways. We also welcome innovative conceptual papers based on previous research. Some of the ways in which this might be done includes:

  • Building new bridges between history and other approaches to the study of organizations that are sensitive to time and context, such as process research, institutional theory, and evolutionary theory.
  • Extending the work that has been done on history and organization theory to related domains, including strategy and entrepreneurship.
  • Introducing new or underused methods for interpreting historical sources related to organizations and organizing.
  • Exploring novel types of historical source material.
  • Examining new and understudied historical periods or regions.
  • Considering new ways in which the past is used in organizations and organizing

Short paper submissions should not only describe the empirical research conducted and elaborate on theoretical claims, but should also explicitly engage the extant work on historical approaches to management and organization studies and point to promising new theoretical, methodological, and empirical directions.


  • Bucheli, M., & Wadhwani, R.D. (eds.) (2014): Organizations in Time: History, Theory, Methods. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Kipping, M., & Üsdiken, B. (2014): “History in organization and management theory: more than meets the eye.” Academy of Management Annals, 8 (1), 535–588.
  • O’Sullivan, M., & Graham, M.B.W. (2010): “Moving Forward by Looking Backward: Business History and Management Studies.” Journal of Management Studies, 47 (5), 775–790.
  • Rowlinson, M., Hassard, J., & Decker, S. (2013): “Strategies for organizational history: A dialogue between historical theory and organization theory.” Academy of Management Review, 39 (3), 250–274.
  • Rowlinson, M., Casey, A., Hansen, P.H., & Mills, A.J. (2014): “Narratives and Memory in Organizations.”Organization, 21 (4), 441–446.
  • Üsdiken, B., & Kipping, M. (2014): “History and organization studies: A long-term view.” In: M. Bucheli & R.D. Wadhwani (eds.): Organizations in Time: History, Theory, Methods. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 33–55.

Matthias Kipping is Professor of Policy and Chair in Business History at the Schulich School of Business, York University in Toronto, Canada. His research has focused on the development and role of the different institutions of management knowledge, namely management consulting and business education. In his publications, as well as in his teaching, he has been trying to link historical research with organizational theory. He is active in a variety of scholarly associations in both business history and management and organization studies.

Daniel Wadhwaniis Fletcher Jones Associate Professor of Management at University of the Pacific, USA, and Visiting Professor at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. His research has used historical approaches to study a range of organizational issues, including the emergence of new markets, the nature of entrepreneurial agency, and the processes of categorization and value determination in organizational fields. He is co-editor (with Marcelo Bucheli) of “Organizations in Time: History, Theory, Methods” (Oxford University Press, 2014), which examines the role of historical research and reasoning in organization studies.

Stephanie Decker is Professor of Organization Studies and History at Aston Business School, UK. As a historian working at a business school, most of her work is concerned with the relation between organization theory and history. She is co-editor of ‘Business History’ and is the recipient of the prestigious Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship 2014–15, as well as the principal organizer of a seminar series on organizational history funded by the Economic and Social Science Research Council (UK). She co-authored “Research Strategies for Organizational History” (Academy of Management Review, 2014) with Michael Rowlinson and John Hassard.



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