Newfoundland and CETA

27 03 2015

As readers of this blog will know, I’ve been following the negotiations for a Canada-EU trade agreement for some time. Back in 2011, I actually organised a small workshop/conference in London on this topic. Anyway, readers who share my interest in this topic should check out a recent Canadian Business article on how the Canadian province of Newfoundland is blocking the agreement. Canada’s written and unwritten constitutions give the provincial governments a say over foreign policy, or at least the parts of foreign policy that touch on economic matters.

Peter Shawn Taylor’s excellent article on CETA places Canada’s peculiar constitutional system in its historical context by reminding people that Canada’s current highly decentralized  system, which gives regional leaders many veto point over national policy, is rather different from the quasi-unitary state envisioned by most of the creators of Canada’s written constitution.

Sir John A. Macdonald, who would have turned 200 this year, advocated a single central government for Canada, without the bother of provincial legislatures: “one government and one parliamentfor the whole of these peoples,” he argued during debates over Confederation. Our first prime minister also made ample use of the now-obsolete power of “disallowance,” which gave him the ability to overrule the provinces whenever he liked.

So we might have expected the Old Chieftain to make short work of Newfoundland and Labrador’s recent gambit to extract $280 million from Ottawa in exchange for its co-operation in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union. If it doesn’t get its money, the province claims it will refuse to enforce CETA and drop out of all future international trade negotiations. Newfoundland’s brinkmanship is introducing considerable uncertainty into the delicate CETA process. 

If you want a bit more information about the role of business in the genesis of the Canadian constitution, you can see an article on the subject I published in an open-access journal. That article focused on the reaction of British financiers to Canadian constitutional politics in the 1860s. I think that it is somewhat relevant in thinking in more general terms about the relationship between constitutional orders and globalization.

BLOG #4: Histories of Enslavement in the Maritime Atlantic

22 03 2015


Here is a research update by one of my fellow members of the Empire Timber Climate project.

Originally posted on empire trees climate:

Histories of Enslavement in the Maritime Atlantic: Slave Labour, the Halifax and Bermuda Royal Naval Dockyards, and Shipbuilding in Bermuda and Grand Turk Island

Last week, team member Margot Maddison-MacFadyen visited the Nova Scotia Public Archives and uncovered connections between slavery, the Royal Dockyard at Halifax, and pine masts from the St. John River, New Brunswick. She also considers slavery and the Royal Dockyard at Bermuda, and Woodville, a “mansion” situated on Grand Turk Island, British West Indies, that demonstrates the use of recycled ships’ parts, including ships’ masts, in its construction.

Why I am Interested in this Project

I’m a PhD candidate in Interdisciplinary Studies at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. My dissertation is titled Reclaiming Histories of Enslavement in the Maritime Atlantic: The History of Mary Prince. It’s a mixed bag, including four subject areas: Education, English, Gender Studies and History. It’s driven by historical research.


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CFP: “Global business practices in historical perspective” Association of Academic Historians in Australian and New Zealand Business Schools

20 03 2015

“Global business practices in historical perspective”

Association of Academic Historians in Australian and New Zealand Business Schools (AAHANZBS) 7h Annual Conference, 2-3 November 2015.  AUT Business School, Auckland, New Zealand.

Call for Papers

The Business and Labour History Group (B&LHG) of the Work Research Institute, AUT University Business School, New Zealand, will be hosting the 7th Annual Conference of AAHANZBS on 2-3 November 2015.

You are invited to submit papers addressing the conference theme, including papers relating to accounting history, business history, economic history, labour history, management history, marketing history, tourism history, transport history and other areas of interest relating to historical research in business schools. We also invite papers / panel suggestions around teaching and pedagogy relating to business and labour history.

Plenary speaker: Professor Ray Markey, Macquarie University

We welcome papers from researchers outside business schools who have an interest in these fields of study.

Both abstracts and full papers may be submitted. Full papers will be published in the conference proceedings.

Please submit either a 1000 word abstract or a 6,000 word maximum paper for refereeing by 12 June 2015 to Simon Mowatt at

The abstract will provide: –

(i) A summary of the argument of the paper

(ii) A summary of the findings of the paper

(iii) A selected list of references for the paper

Papers should follow the Labour History style guide. All authors of the abstracts will be notified by 14 August 2015 at the latest whether their abstracts or papers have been accepted for the conference.

Postgraduate Students awards: The B&LHG is pleased to be able to offer up to 4 competitive travel support awards for Postgraduate Students of NZ$250 each plus free registration. These will be awarded to the best full papers as decided by the AAHANZBS conference committee. Details of these awards, including conditions and eligibility, will be published in April on the conference homepage at the AUT WRI B&LHG site.

Weston Library Opens

19 03 2015

The £80m Weston Library opens in Oxford today. It is named after Canadian philanthropist and businessman Garfield Weston.

Simon Ville on the Teaching of Economic History

13 03 2015

Prof. Simon Ville has published an interesting op-ed on why economic history needs to be taught. The opinion piece appears the World Economic Forum website.

Michael Pettis, economic theorist, Wall Street veteran, merchant banker, equities trader and entrepreneur, exclaimed:

“Economic history should be at the heart of economics instruction.”

Just rhetoric? Written in the wake of the crisis, Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff’s ironically titled This Time Is Different saw common patterns across hundreds of financial crises of many nations over nearly a millennium. How did so many well-paid bankers and public officials miss what was happening?

I am, of course, sympathetic to what Prof. Ville is saying here. However, I thought that it was odd that such a distinguished economic historian would make very bold predictions of the sort that appear in his piece. He writes:

Casting forwards, Australia has set foot in the Asian century, when Asian nations, especially China, will dominate development. Given the geographic closeness and trade complementarity, yet cultural and political differences, Australia faces a specific set of challenges in coming decades. If the recent past resonates with resilience, the near future speaks of potential frailties.

One of the things I’ve learned from studying business history is that we need to be very tentative in extrapolating recent trends into the future and in making predictions. Business and economic history are littered with examples of predictions that didn’t work out. Remember the late 1980s, when people were talking about Japan overtaking the United States?

Ok. I guess I need to get to marking my students’ reviews of Lant Pritchett and Lawrence H. Summers, Asiaphoria meets regression to the mean. No. w20573. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2014.

Two Important New Articles on the Future of Business History

12 03 2015

AS: Business History has just published two (advance access) articles on the current state and future direction of business history.

Towards a new business history?

Abstract: This article calls for a discussion about business history research. We advocate that the current typical approach in business history – dominantly case study analysis – maintains its prominent position, but the purpose and relevance of this type of research in the scientific method for business history is made more explicit. Moreover, the article proposes the application of additional approaches in business history, which specifically aim to develop theory and test hypotheses. These approaches are well established in the social sciences, but require adaptation to the particular needs of business history. The purpose of this article is to argue that opportunities for scientific explanations in business history are enhanced by engagement with the circle of knowledge creation where theory is confronted with empirical evidence and empirical observations feed back into theory formation.

Abe de Jong is a Professor of Corporate Finance and Corporate Governance at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and a Professor of Financial Reporting at the University of Groningen.

David Higgins is a Professor of Finance and Accounting in the Accounting and Finance group at Newcastle University Business School.
Hugo van Driel is an Assistant Professor of Business History at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University.
We agree with de Jong et al.’s argument that business historians should make their methods more explicit and welcome a more general debate about the most appropriate methods for business historical research. But rather than advocating one ‘new business history’, we argue that contemporary debates about methodology in business history need greater appreciation for the diversity of approaches that have developed in the last decade. And while the hypothesis-testing framework prevalent in the mainstream social sciences favoured by de Jong et al. should have its place among these methodologies, we identify a number of additional streams of research that can legitimately claim to have contributed novel methodological insights by broadening the range of interpretative and qualitative approaches to business history. Thus, we reject privileging a single method, whatever it may be, and argue instead in favour of recognising the plurality of methods being developed and used by business historians – both within their own field and as a basis for interactions with others.
Author biographies
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, the recipient of the Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship 2014-15, and the principal organizer of a seminar series on organizational history funded by the Economic and Social Science Research Council (UK). Her recent publications include “Research Strategies for Organizational History” (Academy of Management Review, 2014, co-authored with Michael Rowlinson and John Hassard).

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. They include an article (jointly with Behlül Üsdiken) on “History In Organization and Management Theory: More Than Meets the Eye.” The Academy of Management Annals 8, no. 1 (2014).

R. Daniel Wadhwani is Fletcher Jones Professor of Entrepreneurship at University of the Pacific, USA and Visiting Professor at the Centre for Business History, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. He is co-editor of Organizations in Time: History, Theory, Methods and co-editor for recently announced special issues on “uses of history” in Organization Studies and on “historical approaches to entrepreneurship research” in Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal. His research has been published in Academy of Management Journal, Business History, and Business History Review, among other journals.

Why Are There So Few 3-D Printers in Factory Asia?

12 03 2015

Last November, 3D Revolutions posted this map showing the locations of 3-D printers around the world.  The source of the underlying data wasn’t given, but if we assume that this map is an accurate representation of where most of the world’s 3-D printers are, it raises the question of why there are so few in East Asia relative to the importance of that region as a manufacturing powerhouse. Japan and South Korea obviously have high GDP per capita similar to Western Europe, but they’ve got relatively few 3-D printers. Is language or culture a factor?

What do my readers think?

P.S. I’m posting Salon‘s now iconic image of 3-d printing (actually, it’s not a real 3-printer, just a regular printer with a hand gun in the output tray). A picture of a real 3-D printer is below.


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