Job Opportunity: Lecturer in Business History

14 04 2023

Andrew Smith: There are lots of business historians who work in UK management schools, but relatively few of them have “busineses history” in their actual job titles. The School of Business and Management at Queen Mary, University of London, is trying to fill a new Lecturer (Assistant Professor) post in Business History and Heritage. QMUL is part of the Russell Group of elite, research intensive R1-equivalent universities. Their campus is located very close to both Canary Wharf and the City, the traditional financial district of London, which would give the postholder fantastic opportunities to work with companies.

Lecturer in Business History and Heritage (Teaching and Research)

RefQMUL32395RegionLondonMain SiteMile EndQMUL FacultyHumanities & Social SciencesOrg 1Humanities & Social SciencesOrg 2School of Business & ManagementOrg 3School Of Business And ManagementFull Time / Part TimeFull Time

Please click on the link below for the full Job Description and Person Specification:

QMUL32395 JP LJ.docx

Job Advert

School of Business and Management

Department: Business and Society

Lecturer in Business History and Heritage (Teaching and Research)

Ref: QMUL32395

About the Role

The School of Business and Management (SBM) seeks to recruit an inspirational researcher, teacher, and educational leader to a lectureship in Business History and Heritage. This post offers an exciting opportunity to make a major contribution to SBM’s research expertise in fields such as business history/the history of business in any location or period (especially those with critical approaches and/or whose interests explore global dimensions of history). We value candidates with the particular research and teaching interests of the Department of Business and Society, applications are particularly welcome from those who explore histories of capitalism, environmental change/sustainability, social entrepreneurship/philanthropy, and technological innovation. You will also be actively engaged in (or show the potential to develop) research and teaching in public engagement with business history via heritage and its management, such as in the form of business archives, company museums, heritage crafts, labour heritage, and/or historic industrial/post-industrial environments. Depending on their particular research field, the postholder might contribute to research units in the School such as (but not limited to) the Centre on Labour, Sustainability, and Global Production (CLaSP) and the Centre for Globalisation Research (CGR).

The role of Lecturer in Business History and Heritage in the Department of Business and Society includes both teaching and research objectives: (i) to make important research contributions to the field; (ii) to advance the research subject through publications; (iii) to deliver quality teaching including making innovations in key aspects of teaching and learning; (iv) to contribute to the administration of the Department/School; (v) to maximise opportunities for public engagement in the subject.

About You

Candidates will have completed a PhD and will need to demonstrate potential to publish at national and international level. Applicants will be expected to show how their research interests complement those within the Department or School, and how they can contribute to the development of modules on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in the areas of business history and heritage management. You may also contribute to teaching in areas such as business and society, sustainability, and creative and cultural industries. Whilst we welcome applications from all areas of the discipline, we are particularly interested in candidates who will be able to demonstrate commitment to cross-disciplinary learning and research-based teaching. We are looking for someone with a keen interest in new methods of pedagogical engagement suited to our diverse cohorts of students. We appreciate expertise in engaging large numbers of students and delivering successful pedagogy with large cohorts. We also value experience and expertise in leading initiatives in student entrepreneurship, enterprise, and external engagement activities. The School is strongly committed to the development of all its staff and we will ensure that the successful candidate has the opportunity to develop their teaching, research and administrative skills.

Job context

The School of Business and Management is one of the eight schools in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. The School has been undergoing a period of rapid growth, doubling our number of academic staff over the last five years. We presently have 121 academic staff and a large team of Teaching Fellows and TAs. We have over 2,000 undergraduate business studies students and, at the post-graduate level, approximately 1,000 MSc students and a well-established doctoral programme of around 80 students.

SBM’s core purpose is to promote social justice, sustainability and good governance in the management of private, public and voluntary organisations through our research and education. We are a distinctive School that takes a humanities and social science-led approach to our scholarship, including interdisciplinarity and are now the largest school within QMUL’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, with its traditional strengths as a site of critical thinking in the humanities, law, history, geography and politics.

The Department of Business and Society contributes to SBM through world leading teaching and research in the areas of business history, global value chains (and the relationship between the Global North and the Global South), business ethics, CSR, public management and institutions, social entrepreneurship and social innovation (in the local and global contexts), organization theory, critical management, and business law. Our focus on the relationship between businesses, society, sustainability, and social justice shapes the teaching and research environment of the Department of Business and Society. Department members are typically (but not exclusively) associated with the Research Centre on Labour, Sustainability, and Global Production, the Public Management and Regulation Group, and the Organisational Processes and Practices Research Group. As such, the Department examines business as a field of enquiry in its own right – an area to be subject to critical analysis in the broader context of the relationship between business and society.


We offer competitive salaries, access to a generous pension scheme, 30 days’ leave per annum (pro-rata for part-time/fixed-term), a season ticket loan scheme, and access to a comprehensive range of personal and professional development opportunities. In addition, we offer a range of work life balance and family friendly, inclusive employment policies, flexible working arrangements, and campus facilities including an on-site nursery at the Mile End campus.

The post is based at the Mile End Campus in London. It is a full time, permanent appointment, with a start date as soon as feasible for the successful candidate. The starting salary will be Grade 5/6, in the range of £45,931 – £56,921 per annum, inclusive of London Allowance.

How to Apply

Your application should include:

· a statement as to why you are applying to the School of Business and Management (Department of Business and Society) at Queen Mary, University of London,

· a focused CV of no more than five pages, to include up to one page of evidence of teaching quality (for example recent evaluations and teaching awards or other recognition),

· a brief (1-2 page) outline of your research plans for the next three years.

As part of the selection process, you will be asked to present to members of the Department of Business and Society on your teaching and research.

Queen Mary’s commitment to our diverse and inclusive community is embedded in our appointments processes. Reasonable adjustments will be made at each stage of the recruitment process for any candidate with a disability. We are open to considering applications from candidates wishing to work flexibly.

We particularly welcome applications from women and LGBTQ+, Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic applicants who are currently under-represented in the School at this level.

Informal enquiries should be addressed to Giuliano Maielli, Head of Department of Business and Society and Reader in Organisation Studies, at

Information about the School can be found at

To apply for the role, please click the ‘apply’ button below.

The closing date for applications is 09 May 2023.

“How to Think Historically About the Problem of Modern Slavery”

11 04 2023

That’s the title of a talk I’ll be giving at the University of York Management School on Tuesday 18 April 2023. Here is an abstract of the paper:

The vexed issue of modern slavery is again in the headlines. Policymakers in the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and elsewhere are currently considering how to deal with international supply chains that involve modern slavery and similar forms of unfree labour. In the UK, growing awareness of the limits of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 is prompting consideration of new measures to tackle this issue. This paper discusses the values of historical approaches in thinking about the problem of modern slavery. It does so by exploring how British people in the twentieth century discussed the perennial problem of goods made with unfree labour in international supply chains. By learning how this policy issue was discussed in the past, we can illuminate present-day policy dilemmas. 

Short bio: Andrew Smith is an Associate Professor in the Department of Management at the University of Birmingham.  He has published his business-historical research in a range of journals that include Business History, Business History Review, Journal of Business Ethics, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, and the Journal of Management Studies. He is currently co-editing a Special Issue of Journal of Management Studies that will provide historical perspectives on deglobalization.

How to Register for the PDW Workshop for the JMS SI on Historical Perspectives on Deglobalization

4 04 2023

Are you interested in publishing in the Journal of Management Studies special issue on Historical Perspectives on Deglobalization’s Antecedents, Outcomes, and Managerial Responses? If so, you should consider participating the webinar related to the special issue that is taking place at 2pm UK time on Monday 17 April 2023. To register for the seminar, please use this form. The deadline to register is Friday 14 April. Zoom details of the seminar will be sent all registered participants via email.  

Submission Deadline: 1 July 2023

Guest Editors:

Marcelo Bucheli (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Daniel Raff (University of Pennsylvania and NBER)

Andrew Smith (University of Birmingham)

Heidi Tworek (University of British Columbia).

JMS Editor:

Johann Fortwengel (King’s Business School)


Since 2016, the use of the term deglobalization has increased markedly (Google Trends; Van Bergeijk, 2019). This relatively novel word is now employed by journalists (Financial Times, 2021; Economist, 2022), political risk consultants (Swarup, 2016), policymakers, economists (Irwin, 2020; Van Bergeijk, 2019), historians (James, 2018; Tooze, 2018) and management academics (Aguilera, Henisz, Oxley, and Shaver, 2019; Buckley, 2020; Munjal, Budhwar, and Pereira, 2018; Witt, 2019) as they attempt to make sense of such interrelated phenomena as rising protectionism, nativism, and the re-imposition of controls on flows of goods (Peng, Kathuria, Viana, and Lima, 2021), capital (Roubini, 2020), labour (Farndale, Thite, Budhwar, and Kwon, 2021) and ideas (De Chant, 2022). In effect, they use the term deglobalization to describe developments that make economic exchange across borders harder than was previously the case. For people who use the term in this fashion, deglobalization denotes the opposite of globalization, economic liberalization, and movement towards a borderless world economy. Users of the term deglobalization usually focus on decisions taken by policymakers as the causal drivers behind it, although other drivers, such as environmental and epidemiological, are also certainly possible. The rise of protectionism, nativism, and the intensification of geopolitical rivalries in the early 2020s has created new challenges that forced scholars studying firms and other organizations to bring politics and hostility to globalization back into the agenda (Witt, Li, Välikangas and Lewin, 2021; Doh, Darhan, Cassario, 2022).  In the aftermath of the Cold War, many Western liberals mistakenly saw globalization as inevitable and irreversible (Friedman, 2005). Few subscribe to that viewpoint today.

The advent of deglobalization means that scholars in business schools are in (seemingly) uncharted territory. However, the world economy has experienced cycles of globalization and deglobalization over the last few centuries, as the business historian Geoffrey Jones (2005) noted in a paper that now seems prophetic. History can serve as one guide for thinking about deglobalization’s antecedents and outcomes, because historical and history-informed research can advance management theory (Argyres, De Massis, Foss, Frattini, Jones, and Silverman, 2020; Buckley, 2021; Raff, 2020; Sasaki, Kotlar, Ravasi, and Vaara, 2020; Suddaby, Coraiola, Harvey, and Foster, 2020; Suddaby and Jaskiewicz, 2020; Wadhwani, Kirsch, Welter, Gartner, and Jones, 2020; Wadhwani, Suddaby, Mordhorst, and Popp, 2018). As Argyres et al. (2020) observe, the field of history-informed management research is very diverse, encompassing myriad theoretical perspectives and research methods, positivist, interpretivist, and phenomenological. Historical and history-informed research in management includes papers that examine historical phenomena in light of management theory. It also includes research about what managers and other actors in the present do with historical narratives as in the literature in management on ‘rhetorical history’ -how managers use historical narratives to persuade others- and ‘history-as-sensemaking’ -how managers draw on their historical knowledge to make sense of the present (Suddaby, Coraiola, Harvey, and Foster, 2020).  

This Special Issue seeks to include diverse historical approaches to deglobalization that can advance management theory and provide actionable guidance to practitioners. At the same time, the Special Issue will enable historical scholars to engage with management, producing theoretical cross-fertilisation. We anticipate that this Special Issue will include representatives of the different branches of historical and history-informed research and of different research traditions, including International Business, Strategic Management, and Historical Organization Studies. We seek papers about deglobalization’s history (from the distant past and right up through the present) and equally about how any of a wide variety of essentially historical approaches to and perspectives on this once again current and salient phenomenon can advance management theory and provide actionable guidance to decision-makers.


This Special Issue will showcase historical and history-informed research that contributes to contemporary debates about deglobalization’s antecedents, outcomes, and managerial responses. We therefore encourage submissions that engage with, but are not limited to, the following themes.

Theme 1. Antecedents of Deglobalization

Deglobalization has many antecedents that remain underexplored by researchers. We need to know about what causes deglobalization. We encourage contributors to be explicit about the macro-level theories they use to understand global political economy, whether hegemonic stability theory (Meyer and Li, 2022), Marxian theories of political economy (e.g. Van Lent, Islam, Chowdury, 2020), world-systems theory, or postcolonial theory (Boussebaa, Sinha, and Gabriel, 2014; Boussebaa and Brown, 2017; Said, 1978). Theories that causally link deglobalization and pandemics (Tworek, 2019) might also be usefully applied here. Historical and history-informed research can therefore help to address the following questions, among others:

·        How is the concept of waves of globalization and deglobalization developed by economic historians (Findlay and O’Rourke, 2007) useful in management research?

·        How do organizations of different types (firms, non-profit organizations etc.) contribute to and experience deglobalization?

·        How can comparisons of different episodes of deglobalizations, such as the present one with the deglobalization of the early 1930s, illuminate the underlying causes of  deglobalization, be they technological, ideational, or environmental?

·        What is the role of nonmarket strategy (e.g. Lawton, Dorobantu and Sun, 2020) and/or corporate political activity (Lawton, McGuire, and Rajwani, 2013; Sutton, Devine, Lamont, and Holmes 2021) in driving deglobalization?

·        What is the role of corporate political activity in generating the policies associated with deglobalization?

·        What is the relationship between business and peace (Ganson, He, and Henisz, 2021)?

·        How does deglobalization change the nature of institutional distance and actors’ perceptions of institutional distance?  

·        What causal connections, if any, exist between deglobalization and inequality?

Theme 2. Outcomes of Deglobalization

A second major theme of the special issue will be how deglobalization differentially impacts organizations with different characteristics, such as size, purpose (e.g., profit-seeking or non-profit), nationality, and organizational structure. Papers submitted to the special issue might also engage ongoing debates about de-internationalization (e.g. Kafouros, Cavusgil, Devinney, Ganotakis, and Fainshmidt, 2022), international entrepreneurship (Terjesen, Hessels, and Li, 2016), and political risk management (Forbes, Kurosawa, and Wubs, 2018; Hartwell and Devinney, 2021) through the use of historical case studies.  Historical and history-informed research might shed light on the following questions, among others:

·        Does deglobalization impose greater or lesser costs on large multinational enterprises (MNEs) than on smaller ones? 

·        How does the structure of ownership and control of overseas operations affect the costs of deglobalization?

·        How does deglobalization impact the lived experiences of MNE managers, relations between workers and managers, and the international human resource management strategies of firms?

·        How does deglobalization affect the entrepreneurial opportunities of overseas supply chain firms?

·        What are the implications of deglobalization for different types of entrepreneurship?

·        Does deglobalization have different impacts on family-owned firms versus other firms?

·        How does deglobalization change the relationship between firms and the state?

Theme 3. Managerial Responses to Deglobalization

             A third major theme is understanding how managers in different types of organizations (MNEs, domestic companies, non-profits) creatively respond to deglobalization. Managers appear to have considerable agency in how they respond to deglobalization. We know from the existing historical research that some multinational firms responded to the deglobalization episodes of the early twentieth century by using cloaking (Boon and Wubs, 2020; Casson and da Silva Lopes, 2013; Donzé and Kurosawa, 2013; Forbes, Kurosawa, and Wubs, 2018; Jones and Lubinski, 2012; Kobrak and Hansen, 2004). In a cloaking strategy, a firm attempts to hide its nationality to avoid being caught in the cross-fire between warring nation states. Other multinational firms of that era exploited the tensions between nations associated with deglobalization to engage in “geopolitical jockeying” (Lubinski and Wadhwani, 2020). Historically, some firms responded to deglobalization by embracing host country’s nationalism (Moreno, 2005) or by strategically incorporating members of a protectionist host country’s elite into the firm’s hierarchy (Bucheli and Salvaj, 2018; Garner, 2011). Firms have also used wartime sanctions regimes to attain competitive advantage (Mulder, 2022). We would therefore welcome historical and history-informed papers that deal with such questions as:

·        Which strategies have managers developed to deal with deglobalization?

·        How can managers draw on their knowledge of history in trying to respond to deglobalization?  How have they done so?

·        Does deglobalization create profit opportunities for entrepreneurs and firms and, if so, how are such opportunities identified and exploited?

·        What ethical dilemmas does deglobalization create for managers and how do they resolve them?

·        How might deglobalization change how the managers of multinational firms make decisions about how to enter new markets and manage political risk?  


Submission deadline: 1 July 2023

Expected Publication: Late 2025

• Submissions should be prepared using the JMS Manuscript Preparation Guidelines


• Manuscripts should be submitted using the JMS ScholarOne system


• Articles will be reviewed according to the JMS double-blind review process.

• We welcome informal enquiries relating to the Special Issue, proposed topics, and potential fit with the Special Issue objectives. Please direct any questions on the Special Issue to the guest editors.

·        Marcelo Bucheli, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:

·        Daniel Raff, University of Pennsylvania and NBER: dan

·        Andrew Smith, University of Liverpool:

·        Heidi Tworek, University of British Columbia:



It is anticipated that the guest editors will organize a special issue in-person revision workshop (date and location TBA) for authors who have received an initial R&R decision on their manuscript. Please note that participation in the workshop does not guarantee acceptance of the paper. Participation in this workshop is also not a prerequisite for publication.


Aguilera, R., Henisz, W., Oxley, J. E. and Shaver, J. M. (2019). ‘Special issue introduction: International strategy in an era of global flux’. Strategy Science4, 61-69.

Argyres, N. S., De Massis, A., Foss, N. J., Frattini, F., Jones, G. and Silverman, B. S. (2020). ‘History-informed strategy research: The promise of history and historical research methods in advancing strategy scholarship’. Strategic Management Journal41, 343-68.

Boon, M. and Wubs, B. (2020). ‘Property, control and room for manoeuvre: Royal Dutch Shell and Nazi Germany, 1933–1945’. Business History62, 468-87.

Boussebaa, M. and Brown, A. D. (2017). ‘Englishization, identity regulation and imperialism’. Organization Studies38, 7-29.

Boussebaa, M., Sinha, S. and Gabriel, Y. (2014). ‘Englishization in offshore call centers: A postcolonial perspective’. Journal of International Business Studies45, 1152-69.

Buckley, P. J. (2020). ‘The theory and empirics of the structural reshaping of globalization’. Journal of International Business Studies51, 1580-92.

Buckley, P. J. (2021). ‘The role of history in international business: Evidence, research practices, methods and theory’. British Journal of Management32, 797-811.

Casson, M. and da Silva Lopes, T. (2013). ‘Foreign direct investment in high-risk environments: An historical perspective’. Business History55, 375-404.

De Chant, T. (2022). ‘Big Tech spent decades skirting geopolitical issues. That’s no longer an option’. Ars Technica.

Doh, J. P., Dahan, N. M. and Casario, M. (2022). ‘MNEs and the practice of international business diplomacy’. International Business Review31, 101926.

Donzé, P. Y. (2020). ‘The Advantage of Being Swiss: Nestlé and Political Risk in Asia during the Early Cold War, 1945–1970’. Business History Review94, 373-97.

Donzé, P. Y. and Kurosawa, T. (2013). ‘Nestlé coping with Japanese nationalism: Political risk and the strategy of a foreign multinational enterprise in Japan, 1913–45’. Business History55, 1318-38.

Dorobantu, S., Kaul, A. and Zelner, B. (2017). ‘Nonmarket strategy research through the lens of new institutional economics: An integrative review and future directions’. Strategic Management Journal38, 114-40.

Economist. (2022). Amid Russia’s war, America Inc reckons with the promise and peril of foreign markets.March 12 edition.

Farndale, E., Thite, M., Budhwar, P. and Kwon, B. (2021). ‘Deglobalization and talent sourcing: Cross‐national evidence from high‐tech firms’. Human Resource Management60, 259-72.

Financial Times (2018). Year in a Word: Thucydides’s trap. 19 December

Financial Times (2021). Baillie Gifford’s Anderson: Don’t ‘give up on China. 5 November

Findlay, R. and O’Rourke, K. H. (2007). Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium (Vol. 51). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Friedman, T. L. (2005). The World is Flat: a Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005.

Forbes, N., Kurosawa, T. and Wubs, B. (2018). Multinational Enterprise, Political Risk and Organisational Change: From Total War to Cold War. Routledge.

Ganson, B., He, T. L. and Henisz, W. J. (2022). ‘Business and peace: The impact of firm-stakeholder relational strategies on conflict risk’. Academy of Management Review47, 259-81.

Hartwell, C. A. and Devinney, T. (2021). ‘Populism, political risk, and pandemics: The challenges of political leadership for business in a post-COVID world’. Journal of World Business56, 101225.

Irwin, D. (2020). ‘The pandemic adds momentum to the deglobalization trend’. Peterson Institute for International Economics.https://www. piie. com/blogs/realtime-economic-issues-watch/pandemic-adds-momentum-deglobalization-trend.

James, H. (2018). ‘Deglobalization: The rise of disembedded unilateralism’. Annual Review of Financial Economics, 10, 219-37.

Jones, G. G. (2005). Nationality and Multinationals in Historical Perspective. Harvard Business School Working Paper

Jones, G. and Lubinski, C. (2012). ‘Managing political risk in global business: Beiersdorf 1914–1990’. Enterprise & Society13, 85-119.

Kafouros, M., Cavusgil, S. T., Devinney, T. M., Ganotakis, P. and Fainshmidt, S. (2022). ‘Cycles of de-internationalization and re-internationalization: Towards an integrative framework’. Journal of World Business57, 101257.

Kobrak, C. and Hansen, P. H. (Eds). (2004). European business, dictatorship, and political risk, 1920-1945 (Vol. 1). Berghahn Books.

Lawton, T. C., Dorobantu, S., Rajwani, T. S. and Sun, P. (2020). ‘The implications of COVID-19 for nonmarket strategy research’. Journal of Management Studies57, 1732-36.

Lawton, T., McGuire, S. and Rajwani, T. (2013). ‘Corporate political activity: A literature review and research agenda’. International Journal of Management Reviews15, 86-105.

Lubinski, C. and Wadhwani, R. D. (2020). ‘Geopolitical jockeying: Economic nationalism and multinational strategy in historical perspective’. Strategic Management Journal41, 400-21.

Meyer, K. E. and Li, C. (2022). ‘The MNE and its subsidiaries at times of global disruptions: An international relations perspective’. Global Strategy Journal, forthcoming.

Moyo, D. (2019). ‘Are businesses ready for deglobalization’. Harvard Business Review6.

Mulder, N. (2022). The economic weapon: The rise of sanctions as a tool of modern war. Yale University Press.

Munjal, S., Budhwar, P. and Pereira, V. (2018). ‘A perspective on multinational enterprise’s national identity dilemma’. Social Identities24, 548-63.

Peng, M. W., Kathuria, N., Viana, F. L. E. and Lima, A. C. (2021). ‘Conglomeration, (De) Globalization, and COVID-19’. Management and Organization Review17, 394-400.

Raff, D. M. G. (2020). ‘Business History and the Problem of Action’. Enterprise and Society, 561-91.

Said, E. (1978). Introduction to Orientalism. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Smith, A., Mollan, S. and Tennent, K. D. (Eds). (2016). The impact of the First World War on international business. London: Routledge.

Suddaby, R., Coraiola, D., Harvey, C. and Foster, W. (2020). ‘History and the micro‐foundations of dynamic capabilities’. Strategic Management Journal41, 530-56.

Sutton, T., Devine, R. A., Lamont, B. T. and Holmes Jr, R. M. (2021). ‘Resource dependence, uncertainty, and the allocation of corporate political activity across multiple jurisdictions’. Academy of Management Journal64, 38-62.

Swarup, B. (2016). Macro Matters: Globalisation is dead.

Terjesen, S., Hessels, J. and Li, D. (2016). ’Comparative International Entrepreneurship: A Review and Research Agenda’. Journal of Management42, 299-344.

Tooze, A. (2018). Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World. Penguin.

Tworek, H. (2019). ‘Communicable disease: Information, health, and globalization in the interwar period’. American Historical Review 124, 813-42.

Van Bergeijk, P. A. (2019). Deglobalization 2.0: Trade and openness during the great depression and the great recession. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Van Lent, W., Islam, G. and Chowdhury, I. (2021). ‘‘Civilized Dispossession’: Corporate accumulation at the dawn of modern capitalism’. Organization Studies, 01708406211026127.

Wadhwani, R. D., Kirsch, D., Welter, F., Gartner, W. B. and Jones, G. G. (2020). ‚Context, time, and change: Historical approaches to entrepreneurship research’. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal14, 3-19.

Wadhwani, R. D., Suddaby, R., Mordhorst, M. and Popp, A. (2018). ‘History as organizing: Uses of the past in organization studies’. Organization Studies39, 1663-83.

Witt, M. A. (2019). ‘De-globalization: Theories, predictions, and opportunities for international business research’. Journal of International Business Studies50, 1053-77.

Witt, M. A., Li, P. P., Välikangas, L. and Lewin, A. Y. (2021). ‚De-globalization and decoupling: Game changing consequences?’. Management and Organization Review17, 6-15.

Should The Guardian Apologise for Its Historical Role in Slavery?

31 03 2023

In the Black Lives Summer of 2020, a variety of venerable organizations in the UK and the US faced calls that they apologize/pay reparations for their historical involvement in African chattel slavery. Firm such Barclays Bank, Lloyds of London, and Bank of America faced accusations that their current wealth was based, in part, on profits they accumulated during the period in which African chattel slavery was widely used in the countries around the Atlantic. The accusations against these companies were usually backed up by the citation of historical documents that provide pretty clear evidence that the firm or its predecessors either owned slaves or somehow took decisions that contributing to the maintenance of the system of African chattel slavery, such as insuring the vessels that engaged in the dangerous business of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Since 2020, a variety of companies have either apologised for their historical role in slavery or have apologized and promised to undertake some sort of remedial action in the present.  The media, especially conservative media, brand such remedial action “reparations”, which connects this issue to the wider campaign for governmental reparations payments to the descendants of enslaved Africans, a cause that has been championed by politicians in the Caribbean and by activists in the United States. The idea of corporate reparations for slavery is actually about 20 years old—it emerged around the year 2000 in New York and was, according to a research project I’m involved in, inspired by the 1999 out of course settlement by which German companies agreed to pay reparations to the surviving Nazi era slave labourers. During the Second World War, more than 3,100 German firms, some of which are still global household names exploited Jewish and non-Jewish slave labour. In 1999, they agreed to pay $2.4 billion in compensation to the now elderly slave labourers. This precedent inspired African Americans whose ancestors has been enslaved to try to get compensation out of some companies with historical ties to antebellum slavery. Although the litigation against British and American firms by the African-American activists in the early 2000s failed in the courts due to a combination of questions about standing and statutes of limitations, the underlying idea of corporate reparations for slavery persisted, resurfacing during the BLM summer of 2020

In the summer of 2020, critics began to charge that the Guardian, a left-wing London paper that began life as the Manchester Guardian in 1821, is also guilty of historical financial ties to slavery. The accusation was that because the newspaper was founded in a city that famously specialised in the processing of imported cotton and because most of Britain’s pre-American Civil War cotton imports were produced by enslaved people in the American South, the business that owns the Guardian, the Guardian Media Group, is guilty of historical involvement in slavery and should pay reparations as well. This accusation, which may have originated with activists on the left of the political spectrum, was gleefully repeated by conservative talk-radio hosts, as the Guardian, an expensive, upmarket, very left-wing paper, exemplifies much of what they dislike.

In response to these accusations, the paper’s owners commissioned some historians to do some research on the paper’s historical ties to slavery. The Guardian Media Group is owned by a non-profit entity called the Scott Trust, which was established in 1936 by John Russell Scott, the paper’s owner, who was worried about death duties/inheritance tax.  This week, the Scott Trust published the results of the historians’ research. The paper and the Trust have issued an apology for their historical role in slavery and have promised to make investments in remedial action. The historical researchers found that a number of the entrepreneurs who initially bankrolled the Guardian newspaper in 1821 had made their fortune in cotton manufacturing. These entrepreneurs, who mainly owned factories in Manchester, were in the business of processing fibres that had been harvested on plantations in the New World One of the early investors in the Guardian also appears to have owned a slave plantation overseas. The historical researchers noted that while the Guardian generally supported the cause of the abolition of slavery, during the American Civil War it expressed hostility towards the North and some sympathy for the slaveholding southern Confederacy. While Manchester was a note centre of pro-Northern sentiment in Britain during the American Civil War, the Manchester Guardian was hostile to the North and condemned those who held pro-Northern meetings.

Personally, I don’t think that either the Scott Trust or the Guardian Media Group should apologize for the predecessor firm’s highly indirect ties to slavery. I say this as someone who is a strong believer in the norm that corporations should be held to account for what they did in previous centuries and the firms such as Lloyds insurance should indeed and pay reparations for their role in supporting African chattel slavery.  The involvement of Lloyds in the trans-Atlantic slave trade was substantial and direct enough to warrant an apology and payment of compensation in some form. The decisions taken by members of the Society of Lloyds caused real harm and we want to discourage analogous decisions from being taken in the present. That’s why Lloyds needs to apologise and pay a noticeably painful amount of compensation now. Incentives matter. I certainly think that the Church of England, which invested in a slave trade corporation, should also apologise and pay compensation, as it is now doing. (My thinking about how that compensation should be structured, which is informed by the Effective Altruism movement, is a subject I’ll leave for another blog post).  I just think that the Scott Trust’s ties to slavery are so indirect that it shouldn’t apologise here. In fact, I suspect that it would be positively harmful for the Guardian to apologise for its alleged role in slavery because doing so would reduce the pressure on the other corporations whose antebellum managers took decisions that are actually morally blameworthy. If everyone is a little bit guilty of everything, then nobody is really guilty of anything. The Guardian just isn’t Lloyds.

Systems of guilt, innocence, punishment, and compensation are the most effective at incentivizing good behaviour when they target decision-makers and force them and their firms to internalize costs. If a reckless motorist kills someone, we blame that individual and focus punishment on them. This approach incentivizes good behaviour. If our response to a death caused by a reckless motorist is to blame all of the drivers who were on the road that day or all drivers in general or “car culture” or the fact we have built our cities so that taking public transport is frequently not a viable option, them that lets the reckless driver off the hook. Moreover, we don’t blame the factory workers who produced the car that was driven by the reckless driver. Indeed, one can one imagine an individual who has just killed someone through his reckless driving wanting to change the subject of the conversation from their own choices to broader, societal level issues.  “I didn’t kill that child, car culture did. I blame it!”

Now in the 19to  century, virtually everyone in Britain aside from a very small group of religious zealots who refused to consume sugar (the anti-saccharites) and cotton was somehow indirectly connected to slavery. Cotton garments were popular because they were comfortable and rapidly displaced wool undergarments.  Virtually everyone, even passionate abolitionists wore cotton, even though they knew that much of the cotton currently being imported into Liverpool was produced by slave labour rather than yeoman farmers in the upland regions of the American South.  There was a brief effort in the 1830s to create a market in cotton that was certified as being the product of slave labour but it soon collapsed. (I briefly mention this episode in my Journal of Business Ethics paper on free-grown sugar in nineteenth-century Britian). Abolitionists argued that the abolition of slavery in America would increase the world’s supply of cotton, doing so on the ground that this system of labour was economically inefficient and harmful to all concerned, including the millowners of Manchester. Richard Cobden (1804-1865), a leading cotton entrepreneur, was one of a prominent British supporter of the Northern cause in the American Civil War.  Anyway, lots of people had slight connections to slavery and the profits generated from it. Money that had passed through the hands of slaveowners circulated in the economy. For instance, if a slaveowner went into a pub and purchased a pint of beer, the pub owner can be said to have benefitted from slavery. Should that pub’s owner now apologise for its historical connection to slavery? Most people would have had some degree of connection to individuals who benefited from slavery through the seven degrees of separation principle. In the same way, lots people today are indirectly connected to the human rights abuses that take place in some countries overseas—every time I put petrol in the car, I am creating demand for oil from some regimes we don’t much like. Only a small number of individuals and firms in 19th century Britain, however, took decisions that bolstered slavery, such as investing in overseas plantations or  issuing insurance policies to ships involved in the slave trade. We need to focus on their decisions and that means criticising the successor companies of those firms, and no other firms. Nobody has pointed to any business decisions taken by the employees of the 19th century Manchester Guardian that helped to perpetuate slavery. The founders of the paper took money from some individuals, a few of whom had taken morally blameworthy decisions such as investing in plantations. At most, they can be accused of not doing the due diligence in screening their investors that we might want in the present day.

Let’s go back to first principles to see why this formerly abolitionist newspaper should not apologize/pay reparations. The ultimate test of whether a norm or rule should exist is whether widespread adherence to that norm will make the world a better place by promoting the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people. That’s true whether the norm in question is a formal norm (say a tort law that is backed up by the state and its court system) or an informal norm (such as the sub-legal rule that says if you knock a man’s pint glass over in the pub, you are obliged to buy him a replacement).  Let’s call that way of judging whether norms should exist rule utilitarianism, which is indeed what many philosophers call it. John Stuart Mill, who has a hardcore abolitionist back in the day, was an advocate or rule utilitarianism

 In our society, there is a long-standing rule that says that if a driver injures another person with their car, they must apologise and pay reparations. I think that we would all agree that drivers are safer and life expectancy is longer thanks to the existence of this rule, which gives all of us a stronger incentive to drive carefully.  Life expectancy goes up, making insurance actuaries happy. Moreover, we have less vigilante justice. Similarly, corporations have long been held liable both in the formal legal system and in the wider court of public opinion (informal norms) if they commit harms against individuals. For instance, if the manager of a firm decides to cheap out on essential maintenance and a customer is injured on a poorly maintained staircase, the customer can sue. That arrangement incentivizes good behaviour on the part of firms. Yes, I’m aware of the argument that the balance in favour of injured customers has gone too far in this direction in many common-law jurisdictions, creating inefficient outcomes, but I think we can all agree that some sort of liability for property owner who don’t keep their assets in safe condition is a good thing to have.

The formal and informal norms that incentive drivers to be careful and property owners to ensure their staircases aren’t slippery are old ones. What is new is the informal norm that the corporations should be held responsible for human rights abuses they committed a long time ago, before any of the current managers or shareholders were even alive, let alone in decision-making positions within the company. For decades now, a variety of formal and informal norms have held companies responsible when they or their subsidiaries commit human rights abuses overseas. The foreign torts law introduced in the US during the Carter Administration forces companies to pay attention to whether they are involved in human rights abuses overseas. More importantly, there are informal norms that companies need to follow—many Western firms pulled out of Russia after the invasion of Ukraine not because of sanctions but because to continue doing business there would violate a set of informal norms about not doing business with terrible regimes that emerged in the 1980s during the anti-apartheid movement.

 The new informal norm that is emerging, thanks in part to the precedent set in 1999 by the German firms, extends this responsibility to responsibility to corporate involvement in human rights abuses long ago, rather than just yesterday or last year. In other words, the new norm gets rid of the living memory statute of limations equivalent here. The BLM campaign for corporate reparations for slavery is just one example of this new norm.

Personally, I think that the advent of this new norm, perpetual corporate historical responsibility, is a positive development that will incentivise the right types of behaviour. I think that this norm will incentivise good behaviour because I reject the theory that decision-makers in firms only care about their immediate self-interest and have very short time horizons. The available evidence (see the research on socioemotional wealth maximisation) strongly suggests that this model of managerial behaviour is just inaccurate and that many actual managers care about their legacies and what posterity will think of them after they are dead. For every Gordon Gekko there are numerous family firm managers who want to be respected by their great-grandchildren. If all managers were Gordon Gekko, the new norm wouldn’t have any impact on corporate decision-making and thus would be pointless.  At least enough managers care about what posterity will think about them for us to conclude that the advent of a norm that holds firms responsible for human rights abuses regardless of when they were committed will be effective at discouraging corporate involvement in human rights abuses in the future.

For that reason, I think that public opinion should only require firms to apologise and pay reparations for historical human rights abuses when there is evidence that decision-makers in the firm made decisions that contributed to human rights abuses, such as deciding to rent Jewish slave labourers from the SS or insuring ships that were clearly involved in the slave trade.  When firms that were essentially uninvolved in the human rights abuses start apologising, that takes the pressure off the truly guilty parties, which will be observed by today’s businesspeople and which may affect their calculus about whether or not to engage in immoral behaviour that involves human rights abuses.

My Observations About The 2023 BHC

17 03 2023

Sadly, I wasn’t able to get to the 2023 Business History Conference in Detroit as the dates clashed with some teaching commitments. Next week is my last week of teaching at the University of Liverpool as I am about start work at the University of Birmingham’s Business School. With everything going on, the logistics of a flying visit to Detroit were just too complicated. However, I do have paper on the programme of the BHC, which will be delivered by my excellent co-author Emily Buchnea of Newcastle Business School, abstract below. I also have some observations about some patterns I’ve observed in the BHC conference programme that I would like to share.   

  1. Changes in theoretical orientation of the management theorist who attend the BHC. When I first started attending the BHC, most of the management scholars who attended were people who used theory taken from transaction-cost economics (think of Williamson, 1975) and whose working model of the world overlapped with that of Chandler. For instance, I encountered Richard N. Langlois at my very first BHC. Richard is going to be at the 2023 BHC to present a paper, which is great. However, I also see management academics who use different theoretical frames at this conference, such as Andrew Hargadon, University of California, Davis and Andrew Nelson, University of Oregon. This greater theoretical diversity is probably a good thing. (I supposed I would say that, as I tend to be a theoretical magpie, as I strongly believe in borrowing and combining theory from widely separated fields of social science).  
  2. The presence of the Canadian Business History Association (CBHA).

This year, the CBHA will be represented at the BHC in a serious way for the first time. (In the past, the CBHA sponsored a nice reception that was em-ceed by the late Chris Kobrak but it didn’t sponsor panels by researchers). At this year’s BHC, the CBHA is sponsoring a panel (details below). I think that this development should be welcomed by all business historians and not just those with a strong interest in Canadian topics. In recent years, the number of Canadians attending the BHC, the premier conference for academic research in business history on the North American continent, has declined. The number of Canadians presenting at the BHC has fallen even though the organization devoted to promoting research on Canadian business history has acquired substantial resources to cover the expenses of presenters. One would have thought that this funding would have incentivized Canadian scholars to attend the BHC, thereby reversing the decline in the representation of Canadian historical topics at the BHC. The CBHA recently completed a major fundraising drive that netted C$2m. It seems that this money is now being used to more effectively incentivize Canadian academics to attend the BHC and to engage with the interdisciplinary community of business historians who attend that conference. I’m encouraged to see this trend, as the business history of Canada is a massively under-researched, and important, topic.

Session a: Global Capitalisms and Commodities, Part 1
Founders A (3)
Sponsored by the Canadian Business History Association Contact: Donica Belisle,

Chair: Laurent Beduneau-Wang, Mohammed VI Polytechnic University
Discussant: The Audience

M. Stephen Salmon, Canadian Business History Association
““Buffalo is also a strategic point”: The Imperial Economic Conference of 1932 and the Canadian Great Lakes Grain Trade” 
Kashia Arnold, University of California, Santa Barbara
“Who Depends on the Global Economy?: Silk, Power, and Nationalist Narratives in the Global Pacific” 
Rob Konkel, Yale University
“How to Build a Bloc: Strategic Minerals and Interwar Quests for Autonomy and Autarky” 

A Family Firm Narrates Its History in War and Peace: Jardine Matheson And Its Histories

Presenting author Andrew Smith. Co-authors: Ian Jones (University of York Management School), Nick Wong (Northumbria University), Emily Buchnea (Northumbria University). Jardine Matheson remains an important conglomerate in the Asia-Pacific region. It continues to be controlled by the Keswicks, a British family. The firm traces its origins back to Jardine, Matheson & Co., a firm established in 1832 and which acquired great wealth importing opium into China. It later diversified into a range of less controversial industries. The firm, which now generates a majority of its profits in Greater China, has long been adept at managing political risk. This ability to manage political risks helps to explain why it has survived such cataclysmic events as the Second World War, the Maoist period, and decolonization. Since the 1930s, the firm and its controlling family have invested significant resources in preserving historical documents and narrating the firm’s history. The company has commissioned a succession of official histories, the first of which was published in 1934. Our focus is on understanding how the firm’s depiction of its own history has changed over time and how these changes reflected both shifts in its operating environment and changes in the overall strategy of the firm. In comparing different versions of the firm’s official history, we observed marked differences in how the firm’s history, particularly its controversial early period, is discussed. To learn more about the how the firm and its own family have narrated its past, we undertook a systemic comparison of the commissioned histories produced by the firm. Moreover, we used internal correspondence materials in the Jardine Matheson corporate archive to observe internal conversations within the firm about which materials should and should not be included in the official histories. Our findings should interest historians who study international business in the Asia-Pacific region and the growing number of management scholars interested in how family firms use historical narratives.

Interesting New Historical Paper in the Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences

16 03 2023

Management journals, including the most prestigious and selective ones such as AMJ and SMJ, are increasingly receptive to papers that use historical data and methods. I spotted this interesting paper in Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences, a journal ranked CABS2, that use historical data to speak to debates in the field of International Business about so-called born global firms.

Schmidt, Heiko M., and Sandra Milena Santamaria‐Alvarez. “Born global in 1847: International entrepreneurship at Siemens.” Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences/Revue Canadienne des Sciences de l’Administration.

Paper abstract:

The early internationalization of new ventures has been described as a contemporary phenomenon enabled by globalization and digital technologies. However, today’s multinational enterprise Siemens, founded in 1847, fits extant definitions of born globals. Based on this historical case, this study seeks to answer the question: What are enduring and contextually invariant aspects of early internationalization processes? An abductive analysis of the company’s first 3 decades finds six relevant and emergent themes. We contribute to international entrepreneurship research by presenting evidence that early internationalization is not a new phenomenon, showing support for multiple extant findings, and providing new insights for otherwise underexplored themes. We also provide future research directions regarding personal-level processes in international new ventures based on the analyzed 30 years.

Important Business History Webinar: Leading in the Long Run – Do CEOs matter?

6 03 2023

AS: there is a long-running debate among both academic and practitioners about whether, how much, and under which circumstances the personal characteristics of CEOs really matter to long-term firm performance (see here). Can business-historical research methods and data shed light on this important question? Business historian Michael Aldous seems to think they can. Here are the details of his upcoming CBHA webinar on this subject. Registration for this Zoom link is below.  

Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) have become celebrities and rock stars in popular culture. Often viewed as visionaries they are seen by some as uniquely able to unlock new ways of generating wealth and economic growth for society. Conversely, others see them as grotesquely wealthy, using their roles to enrich themselves whilst destroying political, social, and environmental systems. However they are perceived, CEOs of the largest corporations are key players in global political systems, to the extent that they have ‘displaced politics and politicians as … the new high priests and oligarchs of our system.’ This raises important questions, Who becomes a CEO? What do they actually do in the role? How do they effect the companies they lead? Answering these questions reveals insights into social mobility, meritocracy, business organization, corporate governance, and strategy. Interestingly and importantly, the answers have changed overtime. In this talk we will look at a long run study of British CEOs across the 20th century to see how these trends have evolved. This helps us to understand how CEOs matter now, but what factors may shape the profile, role, and importance of CEOs in the future.

Thursday March 30th, 2:00 pm EST

Moderator: Associate Professor Richard Powers, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.  National Academic Director, Directors Education Program and Governance Essentials Program.

Presenter: Michael Aldous, Senior Lecturer in Management at Queen’s Management School, and a Research Associate at Queen’s University Centre for Economic History.  Currently Im working on a Leverhulme Trust grant investigating British CEOs in the 20th century, examining factors such as personality traits, career progression, and networks, on firm performance.

To register for this Zoom session, click here.

Attendees will need to register to attend. All registered participants will be given Zoom login information on March 29th.

The Church of England and the Slave Trade

11 01 2023

Yesterday saw the release of a study of the financial ties between the Church of England and the slave trade. Grant Thornton, the accounting firm, worked with two historians (Dr Helen Paul of Southampton and Professor Arthur Burns of King’s College London) to try to determine the magnitude of the church’s investment income from slave trading enterprises, chiefly the South Sea Company. For press coverage, see here, here, and here. See also the video below to get a sense of what the popular debate about the report is like. (I was amused when the Pentecostal preacher in this segment was accused by the other guest of being “woke”).

The report’s authors concluded that the church gained roughly a billion pounds in today’s money from its investments in the slave trade. They also note that the church took donations from individuals whose fortunes stemmed, in part or in whole, from slave trading. To make amends for what it did historically, the Church will allocate £100 million to some sort of impact investment fund, the precise details of which have not yet been announced. In effect, these assets will be invested not to firms that offer the best financial return, which is what the assets managers would normally do, but in companies that are trying to do good in the world via socially-responsible business practices. We often hear demands that the firms that historical profited from slavery now pay some form of reparations to the descendants of slaves. Such demands for corporate reparations for slavery are linked to the wider campaign for government reparations for slavery. The Church of England’s decision to atone for its historical ties to slavery by shifting a modest proportion of its vast assets into an impact investment fund, a decision that will likely cost the church some money, is a gesture in that direction. It’s a compromise move.

Now I see that Charles Read, a very talented young economic historian at Cambridge who sometimes writes for The Economist, has critiqued the methodology of this study, claiming that it somewhat over-estimates how much wealth the church got from slavery. Read, who is very well informed about the practical workings of the South Sea Company, the slave-trading firm in which the church invested, claimsthat most of the money remitted to the church from the South Sea Company came not from the profits of the company’s slave trading voyages but from government annuities (i.e., the British taxpayer).

My guess is that Dr Read’s calculations are more likely to be accurate than those of the forensic accountants of Grant Thornton simply because he has greater knowledge of how investments worked in the eighteenth century. The day job of the forensic accountants who were tasked with doing this historical research doesn’t involve looking at documents produced with quill pens! However, debating precise figures of this type is sort of beside the point. In my view, this scholarly debate about the actual facts of the case is unlikely to influence how the public and the Church of England’s many stakeholders are going to feel about this issue. (I say feel not think here because the vast majority of people will arrive at their positions on this issue not by closely examining the historical evidence but by  adopting whatever position fits best with their pre-existing worldviews).

Conservatives of the type who love denouncing “wokery” (whatever that means) will immediately leap to the defence of the Church and will denounce the Archbishop of Canterbury for caving in to the radicals, while anti-clerical zealots will use the evidence that the Church had some sort of financial ties to slavery as an excuse to bash it once again.

For some time now, I’ve been working with co-authors on a study of how firms that historically profited from slavery (e.g., Lloyds insurance) have dealt with the recent demands that they apologise/pay reparations. Although the Church of England is a very different type of organisation than a profit-seeking company, I think that our research on how businesses have dealt with the reparations for slavery issue can shed light on why the Church of England has responded in the way it did. I’m going to be in London next week to present an overview of our (current) research findings at the Lambeth Palace Library. Lambeth Palace is the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. My talk will begin at 5.30pm on Wednesday 18 January. Full details of my talk can be found here. All are welcome, but those wishing to attend should book a free ticket via Eventbrite or email not later than 15th January.

Special Issue on Historical Perspectives on Business Power and Influence

7 12 2022

Historical perspectives on business power and influence
This Special Issue will address questions of business influence on policy formation, business organizations’ political activity, and business power. These are all topics of burgeoning scholarly interest. One reason for this growth in attention is the current political landscape. It is frequently assumed that interest and lobby groups have privileged access to political decision makers. This is not a new phenomenon, however. Both in the US and the EU, the significant role of lobby groups in the political system is recognized and well documented. Business and other lobby groups’ advocacy organizations have an established place within the political system. However, changes have occurred in the lobbying practices of business and in its actual ability to influence decision-making, and in the platforms for and channels of corporate political activity. New investigations are needed.

Lately, these topics have also been analyzed within the field of business history (e.g. Pitteloud 2021; Rollings 2021; Wuokko et al 2021; Eichenberger et al 2022). For example, Eichenberger et al (2022) addresses the role of organized business in the international arena in their pursuit of shaping global capitalism and globalization. Business interest associations (BIAs) and big business do not only aim to shape national policies, but also to affect the broader national and international institutional environment. This Special Issue contributes to this growing field.

Both business historians and those in the social sciences, have also noticed the difficulties in investigating these topics empirically. How do we detect influence? How do we measure it? How do we show the occurrence (or absence) of influence in a distinct and certain manner? Political scientist Andreas Dür and colleagues have addressed the challenges of defining, diagnosing, and measuring influence and power (esp. Dür 2008; Dür et al 2019; Pritoni 2015). Matt Grossman (2012) notes that scholars often have difficulties in consistently demonstrating interest groups’ influence on policy. Influence can occur through other channels than direct lobbying, for example by indicating potential (negative or positive) future consequences from specific decisions. In general, the lobbying success and lobbying strategies are dependent on the institutional context (see, e.g. Mahoney 2008).

The concept of power is also complex and therefore often avoided by historians entirely. As stated by Neil Rollings (2021), business historians acknowledge business power, but often leave it out of their analysis and “lurking” in the background. On the other hand, historians have some advantages. Historians often focus on the long-term, on temporal change, and on the political and institutional context (Grossman 2012; Hojnacki et al 2012). Historians often engage in-depth empirical work. As a result, there is huge potential for analyzing how the arenas and the means of wielding business influence have changed over time.

BIA’s influence, and its power, needs to be assessed, problematized and nuanced by new scholarship. Overall, BIAs are considered to be in general both strong and powerful. Big business and BIAs have better access to policy makers and better resources than many other advocacy groups (Dür 2008). Key industry also often holds structural power by, for example, deciding on where and when to invest (Bernhagen 2007). These factors do not mean that other groups would not be influential, or that it would be easy for BIAs to exercise influence. The capability of business to influence policymaking is almost certainly a more complex issue than has been asserted previously.

Some empirical research even suggests that lobbying and efforts to influence policy makers often have quite little direct effects (e.g. Baumgartner et al 2009). Grossman (2012) shows in an analysis of previous research that the studies more often identify other groups than BIAs as being influential for specific policy changes in the US. Effective group mobilization, large resources, or access to decision-makers do not necessarily lead to influence. There are limits to business associations’ influence, and the degree of influence varies between different policy areas, between countries, and over time. Business groups also need to be adaptive rather than active and confrontational (e.g. Paster 2017).

These complex and challenging phenomena call for in-depth historical and empirical studies of the transformations and varieties of business power. Overall, research into the significance, impact, and power of business interest organizations in historical perspective would benefit from a greater engagement with historical approaches. These can reveal temporal transformations in power and influence, and the connected adaptation of these groups. Historical research can contribute to this field by providing analyses that are deeply contextualized and cover longer periods of time and/or significant transformations. Business historical research also put a welcome focus on business organizations, industries, firms, and business leaders and by doing so, shed new light on corporate actors’ activities.

While challenging, business historians have recently attempted to adopt theoretical frameworks and methodological approaches from neighboring fields. This is a revitalizing approach to the field and has opened it up for fruitful cross-fertilization between various scholarly disciplines. Methods from other fields need to be adapted carefully to suit the needs of historical inquiry. Adopting new approaches has increased the awareness of the methodological problems and given new insights into how the obstacles can be solved. Broader discussions within the business history field on methodological problems are still few. The aim of this Special Issue is – besides presenting new empirical findings – to bring together a variety of methodological solutions that business historians have adopted. By doing so, it lays the foundation for a more coherent debate.

Possible topics and themes

The Special Issue brings together papers on empirically well-designed studies with explicit methodological discussions. The papers should explicitly discuss the methodology that has been utilized and the strengths and weaknesses of the chosen approach. No temporal or geographical limits are set. On the contrary, we encourage papers covering various time periods and different geographical locations.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • empirical studies detecting platforms for BIA and big business’ access to policymakers, and other channels for influence, and changes in these;
  • empirical studies of different policy areas, where influence has occurred (or not occurred), and efforts to trace, and possibly measure, the influence with new and innovative source materials and/or methods;
  • analyses of changes in business power over time and how this has affected businesses’ and business organizations’ political activities and efforts to influence policy-making;
  • analyses of how interest and policy preferences are formed in the business community, including how they are formulated to tie into political goals and BIAs’ changing lobby strategies;
  • analyses of how the political and administrative system and/or industrial/corporate structures have affected the possibilities and ways to exercise influence in political process.

Submission Instructions
This is an open call for papers/submissions.

Deadline for submissions is 31st March 2023 via Business History electronic submission form ScholarOnline. Please indicate that the submission is intended for this Special issue.

We also intend to organize an on-line workshop/Paper Development Workshop with those papers that has passed the first round of the referee process, in late spring/early autumn 2023.

The number of papers include in this Special Issue will be 6 or 7 and they shall be based on original research. None of the papers should have been published previously. All papers pass a normal double-blinded peer review process.

Any inquiries should be addressed to Susanna Fellman, or Maiju Wuokko . The executive editor for this Special Issue is Victoria Barnes.

CfP for JIBS SI on Historical Approaches in IB

7 10 2022

This special issue looks very interesting. It complements the JMS special that I will be helping to edit.

Organizational History Network

Great news! A new call for papers for a history-oriented special issue in the Journal of International Business Studies.


Special Issue of the Journal of International Business Studies


Special Issue Editors:

Deadline for submissions: August 1, 2023


International business in all its forms, whether cross-border activities by multinational companies or non-equity forms of investment, and the international environment it operates in is shaped by the historical legacies of countries and their international relations. The analysis of historical data played an important role in early stages of the development of international business…

View original post 3,621 more words