Business History Collective

25 02 2021

The pandemic saw the suspension of the F2F conferences at which business historians normally showcase their work (ABH, EBHA, BHC, etc). A group of business historians stepped in and created an online webinar series. Many of the webinars have been placed on the Business History Collective YouTube channel. The webinars saw the presentation of papers that were very diverse in terms of theory applied, disciplinary orientation of the speaker, methodology, and historical period covered. Here are some of representative examples of the videos on the channel.

David Chan Smith (Laurier University), “How to Start an Early Modern Tax Haven: Smuggling, Fraud and Global Business in Eighteenth-century Britain”

Roundtable: Slavery and Business History

Tom Buckley (University of Sheffield), “Paths Taken: The Strategic Trajectories of Retail Org in the USA and the UK, 1950-1980”





New Working Paper: The Distribution of Power Over Social Distancing Regulation in the UK: Constitutional Design Principles from Economic Theory

12 02 2021

Andrew Smith
University of Liverpool Management School

Graham Alan Brownlow
Queen’s University Belfast – Queen’s Management School

Paper Abstract: Which groups of elected officials should be in charge of decisions about the imposition of lockdowns and other social distancing rules? People throughout the UK have debated this issue since the start of the pandemic. When central government, local governments, and devolved administrations all enjoy democratic legitimacy, disputes over who should have the power to impose social distancing rules are almost inevitable. The nature of the British constitution also means that the recent debates about parliamentary insight and social distancing rules were predictable. This paper sheds lights on these debates over who should have the power to impose social distancing rules by drawing on economic theory, particularly the work of Nobel Laureates Hayek (1945) and Ostrom (1990). We review UK policy since March 2020 using this lens and then present policymakers with actionable recommendations. We argue that local rather than national governments should be given authority over whether or not to impose lockdowns and similar measures. We argue that in areas in which local government powers are not unified into a single unit and instead dispersed to different levels (e.g. county and borough councils), power over social distancing rules should be vested in the most junior unit of government. We use economic theory to argue that the legislative branches within each level of government should exercise close and continuous parliamentary oversight of all social distancing rules. In light of this pandemic, the UK might also consider investing resources in acquiring a written constitution that would clearly specify who has power over public health measures such as social distancing rules.

Full paper available here.





Message from the Emerging Scholars Committee of the Business History Conference

10 02 2021

This year, the Business History Conference will be held virtually for the first time.  

This new format presents us with both challenges and opportunities.  The Emerging Scholars Committee usually runs networking events, such as a drinks reception and a breakfast.  While we will miss seeing all of you in person this year, we hope to maintain some of these traditions in the new virtual format and to continue to provide a supportive space to network and meet other scholars.

We are launching a new mentoring scheme, which will provide participants at the virtual BHC with a valuable opportunity to gain advice and insight from more advanced scholars in the field on everything from completing a dissertation to finding research funding, navigating the academic job market to exploring possibilities for business historians beyond the academy. 

If you would like to participate, please contact Victoria Barnes <barnes@rg.mpg.de>

We aim to begin the process of introducing mentors with mentees on the 17th February.

With best wishes,

Grace Ballor (Harvard Business School/Bocconi University)

Victoria Barnes Max Planck Institute for Legal History

Jessica Burch (Denison University)

Sven Kube (Florida International University)

Andrew McGee (Carnegie Mellon University)





CFP Corporate Responses to Racial Unrest A special issue of the journal Enterprise & Society

2 02 2021
Deutsch: Südostecke des Dresdner Lipsiusbaus mit Protestbanner „Black Lives Matter“
English: southeastern corner of the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts building with protest banner “Black Lives Matter”
Photo taken 27 June 2020 by Lucas Werkmeister


Corporate Responses to Racial Unrest
A special issue of the journal Enterprise & Society (an ABS3 journal in the UK business school ranking system)
Guest editors: Dr. Tyesha Maddox and Dr. Michael J. Thate


The aim of this special issue is to convene an international team of scholars, ranging from
diverse disciplinary perspectives and broad historical periods, on the question of historical
corporate responses to racial unrest. Organized by an historian of the African Diaspora and a
philosopher of religion and ethicist, this special issue places our current moment of corporate
responses to racial unrest within a broad comparative perspective.


Historically, corporations􀂲and the pressure placed on them by fears of the loss of reputation and
public good will􀂲have propelled many social justice movements. Some, however, have worked
openly as well as through clandestine backchannels to suppress such movements. In this special
issue, we interrogate the ways in which corporations have responded to social pressure and civic pressure
from Apartheid South Africa in the 1980s, to corporate responses to the civil rights movement of
the 1960s, to contemporary companies posting statements in support of Black Lives Matter on
social media accounts following the police killing of George Floyd, such responses have ranged
from the purely representational to the more substantive variety of systemic change.


The editors are thus inviting original essays that analyze from an historical perspective corporate
responses to social unrest that consider (or relate to) the following questions:
􀁸 What are, if any, the ethical responsibilities of corporations in moments of social unrest?
􀁸 How might stakeholder theory be relevant within discussions of civil society and racial
inequality?
􀁸 How can corporations functioning and co-implicated within a capitalist system effect
change?
􀁸 How and in what ways have the pressures to respond to social justice movements
changed over time?
􀁸 What has been the fiscal impact of corporate responses to racial unrest over the long
term?
􀁸 What have been the incentives for companies to respond? And how have these incentives
changed over time?
􀁸 What special cases are worth pointing out across a global perspective as models to imitate
and/or excoriate?

The editors welcome other topics, too, that might relate to the theme of the special issue.
Essays should be around 7,500 to 10,000 words􀂲with a hard limit of 12,000 words􀂲and
formatted according to the style of Enterprise & Society. (Please refer to their Instructions for
Authors page for specific guidance.) The deadline for submission is 1 February 2022.
If you are interested in submitting an essay for review, please submit your essay through
Enterprise & Society􀂶s Manuscript Central by the due date of 1 February 2022. Upon
submission, you will be given an option to indicate that you are submitting to a special issue. If
you have questions about the special issue or expressions of interest, please contact either Dr.
Thate (mthate@princeton.edu) or Dr. Maddox (tmaddox1@fordham.edu).





Racial Justice and the Intersection of Business and Society

19 12 2020

That’s the title of a new initiative from the Social Issues in Management (SIM) division of the Academy of Management.

The SIM Racial Justice Committee seeks to expand the conversation of race and identity in the business academy. Building on the important research traditions within management scholarship that critically engage the role of race in interpersonal conflict and group dynamics, we intend to demonstrate the value of racial considerations in areas of management theory where race has been less prominent. The goal of this series is to spur novel ideas for the development of new research programs and innovative pedagogical and practitioner approaches. 

January 22, 2021, 11:00am- 12:30pm EST – Racial Justice and Business Schools 

Hosts: Robbin Derry (Lethbridge) & Sharon Alvarez (Pittsburgh) 

registration: www.eventbrite.com/e/… 

Penelope Muzanenhamo (Univ. College Dublin)

Victor Ray (Iowa)

Paul T. Harper (Pittsburgh)

Panel will examine the role of race in business school curricula and research valuation: what topics matter, which research questions are overlooked, whose scholarship is cited.  Leading diversity and inclusion efforts as well as teaching about racial justice in business schools will also be addressed.  

February 12, 2021, 11:00am-noon EST – Racial Justice, Social Theory, and Business Ethics 

Hosts: Paul T. Harper (Pittsburgh) & Cristina Neesham (Newcastle) 

registration: www.eventbrite.com/e/…

Rabbi Gideon Pogrund (Univ. of Pretoria) 

Smriti Sharma (Newcastle)

Paul T. Harper (Pittsburgh) 

Panel will challenge and extend dominant social and political theories operating within business scholarship through a critical engagement with Black studies, post-colonial studies, and global feminism. Diversity professionals will find strategies for building communities of trust across identity boundaries.  

Event Sponsor: Dhillon School of Business, University of Lethbridge

March 5, 2021, 11:00am-noon EST – Racial Justice and Business Technologies 

Hosts: Paul T. Harper (Pittsburgh) & Kirsten Martin (Notre Dame) 

registration www.eventbrite.com/e/…

Alvaro Bedoya (Georgetown) 

Muhammad Ali (Northeastern) 

Ezinne Nwankwo (Cambridge) 

Panel will explore the moral dimensions of technology policy and implementation with an eye toward racial impacts. Issues of fairness and transparency in use of machine learning algorithms used in the high-stakes contexts will be a central theme of the discussion. 

Event Sponsor: University of Notre Dame Technology Ethics Center 

March 26, 2021, 11:00am-noon EST – Racial Justice, History, and Business Ethics 

Hosts: Paul T. Harper (Pittsburgh) & David Wasieleski (Duquesne)

registration: www.eventbrite.com/e/… 

Andrew Smith (Liverpool) 

Jennifer Johns (Bristol) 

Leon Prieto (Clayton State) 

Simone Phipps (Middle Georgia State) 

The panel will provide examples of the ways ahistorical methods and temporal frames expose and occlude the role of race in knowledge creation processes. The Atlantic Slave Trade as a context for understanding current management practices will be discussed as well as the unrecognized history of Black entrepreneurship in the U.S.

May 7, 2021, 11:00-noon EST – Racial Justice and Sustainability

Hosts: Robbin Derry (Lethbridge) and Jeffrey York (Colorado)

registration: www.eventbrite.com/e/…

Carl Zimring (Pratt Institute) 

Irene Henriques (York) 

Mary Beth Doucette (Cape Breton Univ.) 

This panel aims to broaden our perspectives on the relationship between the social and natural environments. It will also deepen our understanding of the conceptual connection between “race” and “waste” in the historical development of public and corporate policies.  

Event Sponsor: Dhillon School of Business, University of Lethbridge 

The SIM Division Racial Justice Web-Forum Series is made possible by the generous support of our lead sponsor: 

The Katz School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh 

Call for Papers: https://www.springer.com/journal/10551/updates/18290364 

Journal of Business Ethics (Financial Times 50) Special Issue on “Racial Justice and Business Ethics” 

Submission Deadline: October 1, 2021 

Guest Editors: Paul T. Harper (Pittsburgh), Robbin Derry (Lethbridge), Gregory Fairchild (Virginia) 





Join the Editorial Team of Business History

20 10 2020


Applications are invited for one Co-Editor to join the Editorial Team for
Business History

In the British ABS journal ranking system, this journal is ranked 3. In the Australian Business School Deans List ranking system, in which journals are ranked A*, A, B, or C, Business History is ranked A. In the French CNRS journal ranking system, in lower numbers are better, Business History  is ranked 2.

The position is for a term of three years starting in January 2021, renewable by mutual consent for further terms at Routledge’s discretion.

About the Journal

Business History is an international journal concerned with the long-run evolution and contemporary operation of business systems and enterprises. Its primary purpose is to make available the findings of advanced research, empirical and conceptual, into matters of global significance, such as corporate organization and growth, multinational enterprise, business efficiency, entrepreneurship, technological change, finance, marketing, human resource management, professionalization and business culture.
The Journal has won a reputation for academic excellence and has a wide readership amongst management specialists, economists and other social scientists and economic, social, labour and business historians.

Business History: The emerging agenda

The core strategy of Business History is to promote business history as a sui generis scholarly discipline, engaging on an equal footing with mainstream history and the wider social sciences. To achieve this, the Journal will continue to be international, comparative, thematic and theoretically informed. In the post-Chandler world, the agenda for business history is to extend its scale and scope specifically to:

• widen its international scope: business activities in underrepresented regions, for example Latin America, Africa and Asia
• go back beyond the 19th and 20th centuries to include ancient, medieval and early modern eras
• inform the policy agenda; historical examples of regulatory success and failure, nationalisations and privatisations
• engage with the business and management agendas; entrepreneurship, competitive advantage, corporate governance
• theoretical development; independent theory or theories of business history

All research articles in this journal are rigorously peer reviewed, based on initial editor screening and anonymized reviewing by at least two referees.
The Journal is indexed in the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus and numerous business journal quality lists, such as the CABS and ABDC lists. Please visit http://www.tandfonline.com/fbsh for additional information about the Journal and Publisher.

Job Description

We are seeking one Co-Editor to join the Editorial Team to drive the strategy for Business History, working to enhance the impact and reputation of the Journal. The Co-Editor will manage the peer-review process for papers assigned to them, recommending high quality papers to publish.
Routledge provide an annual contribution to expenses incurred by the

Editorial team.

Key Tasks

The tasks to be undertaken will include but will not be limited to:
• Working with the Editorial Team, Routledge and the Editorial Board to develop the editorial strategy and direction of Business History and acting as an ambassador for the Journal;
• Attendance and networking at international conferences, which may be online or in person, and events to promote Business History and solicit submissions, invited contributions, and special issue proposals;
• Responsibility for enhancing the quality and reputation of Business History, particularly in relation to the quantity, quality and timeliness of published research;
• Commissioning topical special issues with active, well-respected Guest Editors;
• Day-to-day manuscript and peer review management including selecting and managing peer reviewers and making recommendations for the final decision on papers assigned to you;
• Ensuring that all reviewers and authors uphold the Journal’s code of publishing ethics;
• Working with the Editorial Team to refresh the Editorial Board and pool of reviewers as necessary in terms of subject specialisms and geographical representation;
• Attending Editorial Team / Editorial Board meetings annually.
Candidate Experience

We are seeking an outstanding and professional academic who is actively involved in the disciplines covered by Business History, with an international reputation for research excellence, and a passion for communication. Prior experience of editing an established journal is preferred, but not essential.


Applicants should be actively involved in networks within the field. Key qualities sought for the positions include energy, enthusiasm, managerial skills to oversee the editorial cycle, an understanding of research and publishing ethics, and the ability to meet deadlines and work effectively with Editorial Team members and a major publisher.

Application Procedure

Applications must include a letter of interest, specifically referring to why you believe you are particularly qualified for the role of Co-Editor as part of an Editorial Team for Business History, and how you see your role in the future development and direction of the Journal (maximum of 1 side of A4). CVs should also be submitted.


To submit your application, or for further details, please contact:
• Neil Rollings, Editor-in-Chief, Business History, Neil.Rollings@glasgow.ac.uk
• Stephanie Decker, Editor-in-Chief, Business History, stephanie.decker@bristol.ac.uk
• James Cleaver, Portfolio Manager for Business, Management & Accounting Journals, Routledge, James.Cleaver@tandf.co.uk.

Anyone who wishes to discuss these positions informally with the Editors-in-Chief are welcome to contact Neil Rollings or Stephanie Decker at the email addresses given above.

The deadline for applications is Monday 16th November 2020.
Candidates who pass the initial screening stage will be invited for an interview with the Editors-in-Chief, which will be over video link.
All applications will be treated as strictly confidential. Routledge and the Editors-in-Chief will judge each on its merits without regard to the race, religion, nationality, sex, seniority, or institutional affiliation of the candidate.





My Thoughts on Lipartito on “The Ontology of Economic Things”

9 10 2020

The distinguished business historian Ken Lipartito has published a very thoughtful piece in Enterprise and Society about the advantages and disadvantages of adopting methodological individualist lenses in the course of doing business-historical research. In the paper, Lipartito demonstrates a high degree of theoretical fluency. I agree with much, perhaps 95%, of what he says. It is clear that we like to read the same types of theory (NIE, Schelling, Foss on microfoundations, Latour, etc). Let me focus on the 5% disagreement I have with Lipartito. I think that my disagreements with specific statements in his paper stem from slightly different meta-theoretical assumptions (that is assumptions about the production and use of theory): I tend to judge whether to use a given theoretical lens based on whether doing so is instrumentally useful to the researcher’s career and helps the researcher to create knowledge that is useful to non-academic stakeholders, such as firms and policymakers.  I’m also operating in slightly different cultural context (I live and work in the homeland of Charles Darwin, where evolutionary thinking and evolutionary psychology are more socially acceptable than they are in many parts of American society, including those that think of themselves as liberal in US terms). I’m also at a different career stage than Ken is and have a different incentive structure.

Lipartito (2020, p.597), writes “We can also expand the scope of methodological individualism by looking more deeply at human motivations, rather than just assuming a narrow, instrumental rationality. Critiquing economic models for treating people as “rational fools,” economist Amartya Sen points out that people in fact have a wide range of goals, strategies, and desires. They may be interested in loyalty, solidarity, and morality, all things that subordinate self-interest and own-goal seeking to the interests of the group or a shared principle.”

I totally agree with this statement, but believe in that accounting for why human beings are not as selfish as the Econ 101 model of human nature might suggest, it would be very useful to draw on evolutionary psychology, particularly the newer variants grounded in Multi-Level Selection Theory, explains why a desire to take care of one’s group is deeply ingrained in human nature, thanks to millions of years living in small hunter-gatherer bands that punished individuals who were purely selfish.  I therefore think that Ken should engage more fully and sympathetically with evolutionary psychology than he does in this paper.

Evolutionary psychology emerged in the 1970s and 1980s in an attempt to explain certain features of human nature as the functional products of natural selection in the evolutionary environment (Dawkins, 1976; Wilson, 1999). Initially controversial, the main premises of evolutionary psychology now enjoy widespread support in psychology and political science and in behavioural finance (!!!!) and in medical schools. The currently anti-obesity campaign run by the NHS and Public Health England was designed by people who explicitly acknowledged their debts to evolutionary psychology, which teams that our evolutionary heritage predisposes people (including me!!) in the modern, calorie-rich environment to overconsume foods, particularly sweet foodstuffs that were scarce in the evolutionary environment. (That insight would, I think, be useful to any historian want to write about the history of the junk food industry). Anyway,  MLS theory, which posits that natural selection sometimes involves competition between individuals, and simultaneously acts on multiple levels ranging from the gene and the cell, up to communities and entire species (Kramer & Meunier, 2016). MLS thus differs from the older versions of evolutionary theory that conceptualise competition as taking place primarily between individuals (e.g., Dawkins, 1976; Nicholson 2008). I think that Ken’s target should be this older version of evolutionary psychology, not the MLS theory developed more recently in the wake of the seminal work of David Sloan Wilson and others.

On page 616, Ken writes appears to endorse the adoption by business historians of “new social ontologies” to replace the variants of methodological individualism whose faults he identifies earlier in the paper. He writes:

Agency and structure, materialism and mentality, subject and object were the dichotomous problematics that models of the social had to address. The new social ontologies seek to bypass these dichotomies by recognizing the wide variety of entities,material and human, that constitute any social fact or thing we care to identify. The result is to shift the emphasis to the ways that social things are constructed, and the contingent nature of those constructions.

Right, this passage prompts me to ask two genuine, non-rhetorical questions.

First, what would be the practical advantage to business historians seeking to develop their careers and to contribute knowledge that is useful to non-academics of adopting the new social ontologies? Would doing so help us to get papers into the top journals needed for promotion? Would discarding all of the existing variants of methodological individualism and adopting an approach similar to the Latourian actor-network ANTi-History lens associated with Gabby Durepos help us to produce knowledge that is more useful to, say, MBA students or policymakers or managers in firms?  Or would we be better served by the using some variant of methodological individualism, albeit one that is rooted in the findings of biologists such as David Sloan Wilson, psychologists such as Joseph Henrich, and the work of Nicholas A. Christakis of the Human Nature Lab at Yale? I’m genuinely agnostic on that question, at least right now.

Second, what are the methodological implications of adopting the theoretical lens proposed in this paper? Although I am more agnostic about which theoretical lenses we as business historians use, I am a strong advocate of the use of corporate archives. In the past, Ken has written brilliantly and influentially about the use of historical primary sources (a recent historical paper in ASQ draws on his methodology paper). Would adopting a Latourian ANTi-History lens require us to shifting to using different sources and research methods? His paper, perhaps because of space constraints, doesn’t talk about Durepos and the methodologies used by other ANTi-history scholars in Canadian and other business schools.





Decolonising the Curriculum: Insights from the Golden Age of Black Business

24 09 2020

The events of the last six months, which include the ‘Black Lives Matter moment’, have encouraged a renewed emphasis on equality and justice issues in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other countries. The need to decolonise the curriculum of management schools has been discussed extensively in this context. In the past, I have argued that eliminating the vestiges of colonialism from our thinking can allow us to make better decisions, particularly in a business context..

In October, my department will welcome two guest speakers from the United States, Leon Prieto and Simone Phipps, who will talk about their efforts to decolonise management research and teaching and to engage more effectively with African-American management learners. We believe that their presentation will be of interest to staff in the SIBE group, across the management school, and indeed the wider university community.  A recent online presentation by Professors Prieto and Phipps to the Academy of Management attracted considerable interest and was well attended. Their recent article in the MIT Sloan Management Review has prompted online debate.

I’m very proud to have helped to organise this talk.

Decolonising the Curriculum: Insights from the Golden Age of Black Business

Leon Prieto (Associate Professor of Management, Clayton State University/ Associate Research Fellow Judge Business School, University of Cambridge) and Simone Phipps (Associate Professor of Management, Middle Georgia State University/ Associate Research Fellow Judge Business School, University of Cambridge)

Black entrepreneurs, managers, and management thought leaders are generally conspicuously absent from management research, omitted, not because they did not contribute, but because they and their contributions have been ignored or overlooked. In this era of Black Lives Matter, the decolonisation of the management curriculum is even more pertinent as it relates to the acknowledgment that Black lives and minds do matter, and should be prominently featured in business education. This session explores the contributions of two of the many Black management thought leaders and practitioners, namely Charles Clinton Spaulding (President of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company) and Maggie Lena Walker (President of St. Luke Penny Savings Bank). Also, the link between decolonisation of the curriculum (including teaching about Black managers and entrepreneurs) and student inspiration will be discussed. Finally, the session will include practical ways to decolonise and revolutionise the curriculum to make it more diverse and inclusive.  





Historical Cognition and Strategic Entrepreneurship

23 09 2020

That’s the title of a forthcoming webinar by Diego Coraiola, University of Alberta.  25/09/2020 @ 16.00 hrs London. Register hereSee abstract below.

There is an emerging ‘historical turn’ in strategy and entrepreneurship research. Scholars are realizing that history can be a source of competitive heterogeneity and foster entrepreneurial action. However, scholars disagree upon the reasons why history matters. Objective approaches have theorized the inertial and path dependence effects of historically acquired resources and competencies. Contrarily, narrative approaches argue that history can be conceived as a form of rhetoric used to generate competitive advantage. Thus, in spite of the recognized importance of history for entrepreneurial and strategic behaviour, we lack an overarching theoretical framework clarifying the role of history in strategic entrepreneurship. In this chapter, we develop an integrative approach to history grounded on the notion of historical consciousness. Our cognitive view of history integrates previous approaches and outlines new avenues for the study of strategic entrepreneurship.





Historical Cognition and Strategic Entrepreneurship

23 09 2020