Workshop Programme: Organizations as heritage and history as a useful resource

22 02 2017

Historicising the theory and practice of organization analysis

Seminar 6: Organizations as heritage and history as a useful resource

Wednesday 5th April 2017

University of Exeter Business School
Building One: Constantine Leventis Teaching Room

Reception: Xfi Building

10:15-10.30 Refreshments and welcome by seminar series organizers Michael Rowlinson, Stephanie Decker and John Hassard

10.30-11.30 Albert J. Mills (Saint Mary University and University of Eastern Finland), “Insights and Research on the study of Gender and Intersectionality in International Airline Cultures Over Time.”

11:30-11:45 Coffee and biscuits 11:45-12:30 Gabrielle Durepos (Mount Saint Vincent University) “Mobilizing Critical Management History: the example of ANTi-History”

12:30-13:15 Michael Rowlinson & David Boughey (University of Exeter) “Suncor’s Corporate History: Strategic Rhetoric or Cultural Imperative?”

13.15-14:00 Buffet lunch

14:00-14.45 Sara Kinsey (Head of Historical Archives, Nationwide Building Society) “Lights, camera, action: reflections on organizational remembering in practice.”

14:45-15.30 Michael Weatherburn (Imperial College London) “The emerging corporate knowledge gap: why we need our dark archives and ghost data more than we realize.”

15:30-15:45 Tea and biscuits 15:45-16:30 Alan Booth and Morgen Witzel (University of Exeter) “The Rowntree business ‘archives’: uncovering British management in the inter -war period”

16:30-17:15 RoundtableSpeakers: Charles Booth (University of the West of England) Peter Miskell (University of Reading) Anna Soulsby (University of Nottingham)

17:15-19:00 Reception

We are in a deglobalization period: Business historian Geoffrey G. Jones

21 02 2017


If “post-truth” was the word of the year in 2016, “deglobalization” may be the word of the year in 2017. (Actually people have been talking about deglobalization for the last few years). Livemint, the Indian business website, has published a great interview in which the great business historian Geoffrey Jones discussed deglobalization. The full interview is worth reading.  I’ve pasted some choice excerpts. As you can see, Professor Jones is very much of the view that de-globalization is being driven entirely by policy rather than other forces, such as convergence in labour costs in manufacturing, technological convergence, or higher energy costs.


What drives deglobalization?

It is policy. The question is why. I personally think globalization has a bit of an issue—it rewards winners. Losers, lose out. So, in the first global economy, in the early 20th century, the world as a whole got very rich. But there was a huge gap between the winners and the losers. So who did well? White men in the US and Europe did well. Who lost out? Women lost out, colonized people lost out, Muslims lost out.

Why is deglobalization repeating?

It is the revolt of the losers. In the first wave the colonized people revolted against that. There was a huge wave of extreme Muslim rebellion and Jihadi movement. We are seeing a repeat of that now. This time it’s not colonized people, but the blue collared, the white workers, the middle class due to the rising disparity in incomes and we are seeing that across geographies from the US to China.

How long do you see this period of deglobalization lasting?

The last one lasted 50 years and included a spectacular war and much else.

Come Do a PhD With Me!

21 02 2017


AS: Are you interested in doing a PhD that lies at the intersection of history, management, and computer science? Interested in being embedded in a huge bank where you will access to first-class  data you can use for your PhD research?  Do you think that digital humanities can help banks and other big corporations to achieve their goals? Want to have an academic career in a hot field? Then this opportunity is for you!

I can’t guarantee that doing a PhD with us will result in a top-flight academic career. Doing a PhD at the University of Liverpool isn’t the same as doing a PhD at Stanford or the Harvard Business School. What I can promise you is that if you exert yourself, I  will work jolly hard to launch you into a career as a researcher. My colleagues will provide you with first-rate training  in the skills you need to do well in this field. We will also help you to get your papers into the top global conferences in this field and will teach you how to give a presentation that will blow the socks off of an international audience of academics. Lastly, we will teach you how to write articles that will get published in good journals via co-authorship and intensive one-on-one mentorship.

Anyway, here are the details of the project you will be working on if you accept this funded PhD offer.

Accounts with Interest’ – Networking Historical Customer Records

Closing date for applications: 21 April 2017

The University of Liverpool and Barclays Group Archives (BGA) invite invitations from suitably qualified candidates for a fully-funded AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award PhD studentship investigating the accessibility of Barclays’ historical customer records.

The successful candidate will enjoy privileged opportunities to work  as a member of the professional team responsible for Barclays Group Archives in Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester exploring the possibilities for exploiting customer and other nominal banking data within the information technology environment available to BGA and investigating how such a local development might be exploited in the context of the wider banking archive sector.

‘Accounts with Interest’ is conceived as a genuinely interdisciplinary project within the digital humanities; we are keen to attract suitably-qualified candidates from any area  who can demonstrate their potential to carry out a research project designed to enable digital access to the nominal and related information held in archival records.

You can download further details of the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award Studentship 2017 (pdf).

Alternatively email Dr Margaret Procter, senior lecturer, Record and Archive Studies or Dr Andrew Smith, senior lecturer in International Business.

Interviews will be held in Liverpool in May 2017.

Tuition fees + £14,553 (RCUK rates) + £1,000 p.a. (towards research costs) from Barclays.

“Our history teachers readied us for this dumb sh*t”: public history and the political present

17 02 2017

Worth reading!

Organizational History Network

If ever we need historians, it’s now. Niall Ferguson has recently urged the President to convene a Council of Historians for the ‘United States of Amnesia’. It seems unlikely that…

Source: “Our history teachers readied us for this dumb sh*t”: public history and the political present

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Trump, Nostalgianomics, and the Uses of the Past

15 02 2017

The Uses of the Past scholars in management schools are interested in how decision-makers use ideas about history to make sense of the present and to plan for the future. They have had lots of empirical data to work with recently thanks the Back-to-the-Future antics of the anti-globalization brigade on both sides of the Atlantic. Anti-globalization figures such as Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, and some the rust belt protectionists who voted for Brexit have been pining for a return to the glory days when the North Atlantic countries were filled with belching smokestacks and manly, gainfully-employed, blue collar heroes. We’ve seen this rhetoric, this desire for a strategy of restoration is the decrepit manufacturing towns of Pennsylvania, in the Welsh city of Swansea, which voted for Brexit because it thought it would bring the steel jobs back from China, and in the industrial centres which were once Communist and now appear to be leaning towards the Front National.  People are seeking to Make [INSERT COUNTRY NAME] Great Again. It’s an anachronistic economic policy.

In today’s Financial Times, Martin Sandbu  calls this retro-grade mentality  Factory Fetishism in his excellent piece on Trump desire to bring back manufacturing jobs. In his companion piece on the FT’s Free Lunch blog, Sandbu recommends that we  recommend the economist John Kay’s recent essay, which also makes the connection between the nostalgic desire to bring back heavy industry and the politics of gender and old-school masculinity.

Some of the roots of the white working-class resentment which supports Donald Trump and voted for Brexit are found in these gender-related consequences of the structural consequences of economic globalisation. It would be an absurd response to look back longingly on pictures of men with bare torsos covered in sweat working in the light and heat of rivers of molten iron, or heaving coal as they spent half their day working underground; these may have been real jobs, but they were awful jobs, and our society is better off for no longer needing them. But there is a solidarity and stability that has been lost, and consequences of that loss which will not go away. But I am already past the point at which the economist must pass the baton to the sociologist, the anthropologist – and the politician.

Kay’s piece is interesting because he addresses two different divisions of labour– the ever advancing division of labour in the economy and also the division of labour within the social sciences — between economists, sociologists, anthropologists and so forth, with each discipline providing a lens that allows for a rounded view of the phenomenon under consideration.

I agree with the Kay and Sandbu that a particular vision of history, a nostalgic desire to return to a past golden age of manufacturing, is common to the New Right of all of the major North Atlantic countries (Trump and the Alt-Right in the US, the Chamberlainite Conservativism of Theresa May, the new UKIP’s leader’s plan to amalgamate socialism and nationalism so as to appeal to the patriotic working classes , Le Pen’s Front National). However, I also perceive important differences in how history informs the thinking of the anti-globalization right in each of these countries. In their rush to point out the similarities between the use of history by the protectionist right on both sides of the Atlantic, Kay and Sandbu appear to be ignoring some important differences.

One of the ways in which the use of history within the Trump administration appears to differ from the use of history from that of the other right-wing political movements in the West is the influence of the Strauss-Howe theory of historical cycles, a way of interpreting the past that claims some predictive power.


From what I’ve seen, the Strauss-Howe theory doesn’t appear to be used much outside of the United States, largely because the historical cycles seems to be designed to appeal to Americans, as it gives prominence to events in Western and, especially US history in its Anglo-American Saeculum, such as the War of the Roses or the US Civil War. This way of viewing history, which is supposed to help one predict future crises, likely wouldn’t resonate with a corporate client in say China or Germany.  Within the United States, however, this theory of the past appears to have attracted the attention of decision-makers in the private sector and now the Trump White House. LifeCourse Associates, the firm set up to commercialize this theory of history via the sale of consultancy services, has an impressive list of clients that includes the following companies, most of which are US firms, aside from the odd Canadian one:

Associated Financial Group
Booz Allen
Charles Schwab
Darden Restaurants
Ford Motor Company
Grey Advertising
Hanley Wood
Hartford Insurance
Hewlett Packard
Hillenbrand Industries
Honda Automotive Company USA
J. Walter Thompson
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
Joseph E. Seagram and Sons Inc.
Kaiser Permanente
Kellogg Company
Kraft Nabisco
Lincoln Financial Group
Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation
Manu-Life Financial
McGraw Hill
Mercer Human Resource Consulting
Merrill Lynch
Morgan Keegan & Co.
Morgan Stanley Capital International
New York Federal Reserve
Northrop Grumman Corporation
Pillsbury Company
Sun Microsystems, Inc.
Target Software

The American Council of Life Insurers
The Hershey Company
The Procter and Gamble Company
United Parcel Service
Walt Disney Imagineering
White Castle

We don’t know whether managers of any of these companies made decisions on the basis of the Strauss-Howe theory of history. However, it appears that they listened to this theory and paid to do so.

This theory of history offers predictions. For instance, the timeline of Anglo-American history on the LifeCourse website lists past events such as the “French & Indian Wars
(1746–1773)” as well as giving us an approximate end date for the “Global Financial Crisis (2008–2029?)”. The later set of dates could become actionable information for a businessperson who believed the  Anglo-American Saeculum provides a guide to the future.

Multiple sources report that Steve Bannon, President Trump’s top adviser, uses the Strauss-Howe theory as a lens to understand the world (see here, here, and here).

I think that the use of Strauss-Howe theory to comprehend the present make the historical thinking of the Alt-Right in the US somewhat different from that of the populist right in Western Europe. I agree with Sandbu and Kay that there are many similarities between how nostalgic populists on both sides of the Atlantic use the past to understand the present, but there are also important differences.

EU Parliament Ratifies CETA

15 02 2017


After years of diplomatic hard labour, the EU parliament has voted in favour of CETA, the Canada-EU trade agreement. See here, here, and here.  I know that some people have understandable concerns about the ISDS provisions of the agreement, but I think that overall the ratification of CETA is a great move and a victory for liberal values of trade and openness in an era otherwise dominated by the likes of Putin, Trump, Le Pen, and so forth.



Calling All Business Historians: Funded PhD Work at the University of Glasgow

13 02 2017

Two 3-year fully funded PhD Scholarships to be held at the University of Glasgow from September 2017

Applications are invited for two 3-year PhD scholarships (with a possibility of a one-year extension) in Economic and Social History at the University of Glasgow.

The successful candidates will be part of the ERC-funded project The Making of a Lopsided Union: Economic Integration in the European Economic Community, 1957-1992 (EURECON) led by Dr Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol of Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow. They are expected to begin on 1 September 2017, or as soon as possible thereafter.

Description of the EURECON project

The goal of EURECON is to explore European policymakers’ views about how to make the organisation of the European Economic Community (EEC) fit for the creation of a single currency, from 1957 to 1992. It is often said that the euro has faults of conception. But how did this happen? How was the euro made in such a way that it nearly completely overlooked some critical aspects of monetary unions? The assumption is that in the run-up to the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, European policymakers just did not think properly about how to make the Euro work. Was this really the case? Did European policymakers really overlook the economic foundations of European monetary union?

The project aims to examine European policymakers’ debates and proposals, understand the reasons for their success or failure, identify the dynamics of political and economic trade-offs and compromises, shifting priorities, and alternative approaches that were abandoned at the time but recycled later. The project focuses on five work packages: macroeconomic policy coordination, fiscal transfers, capital market integration, banking harmonisation/supervision and the deepening of the common/single market. The project will examine the origins of the issues that are currently bedevilling the European Union (EU) by investigating the period between the creation of the EEC in 1957 and the decision to create a European single currency in 1992.

PhD positions

The PhD projects will focus on the role and influence of non-state, non-EEC actors and factors in the above discussions. Interested applicants should focus specifically on the role of one of the following actors/factor:

  • Commercial banks: Commercial banks were central actors in the development of European economic integration, in particular with regard to capital market integration, regulation/supervision, and the development of the common/single market. Did they support the creation of a common market in banking? Did they adopt specific lobbying strategies within their respective member states and in Brussels? How did they view the possible future creation of a monetary union in Europe?
  • Big business (other than banks): The implementation of the common/single market, the issue of EEC fiscal transfers, and macroeconomic policy coordination had an impact on the conduct of business in Europe. Did big business consider that these developments would improve their environment, in creating more business opportunities, easier financing and trade? The Roundtable of Industrialists famously lobbied for the Single Market Project; did big business aim to actively support or oppose other developments at different time periods?
  • Trade unions: Macroeconomic policy coordination, EEC fiscal transfers, and the development of the common/single market had an important impact upon labour relations. How did trade unions try to influence European economic policymaking? In particular, how did they promote European social policies and how did they cope with the challenges induced by European economic integration in a globalising world? The rise of unemployment in Europe from the 1970s as well as the reflections mentioned above about the introduction of an EEC-wide unemployment benefit provided an important points of interest for trade unions.
  • The spread and influence of economic ideas on the evolution of European economic cooperation and integration: Many economic ideas have influenced and competed over the development of European economic integration, including German ordo-liberalism, French planning, and neo-liberalism. Recent studies have shed light on the rise of neo-liberal politics in the evolution of thinking about deregulation and the free movement of capital. How did economic thinking evolve in the EEC and how did these influences permeate policymaking at the European level? This topic would more specifically focus on the intellectual history dimension of the economic integration of Europe by looking at one of these schools of thought. How did these ideas spread among European policymakers? How did these ideas change over time? What was their actual influence?

The successful candidate is expected to:

  • Write a PhD thesis under the supervision of Dr Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol
  • Be an active part of the EURECON project and work in close cooperation with other team members
  • Present papers at conferences
  • Publish in international peer-reviewed journals (individual and co-authored)
  • Participate in yearly workshops organised within the scope of EURECON.

The successful candidate will register for a PhD in Economic and Social History, School of Social and Political Sciences, College of Social Sciences, University of Glasgow.

The scholarship covers the successful student’s full-time home/EU tuition fees (£4,121 p.a. for 2016/17), pays a stipend (£14,296 p.a. for 2016/17), and includes a research budget allowance to cover expenses related to archival research and conference attendance (at least £1500 p.a.). There is a possibility for an extension to a fourth year, under the same financial conditions.

PhD students at the University of Glasgow benefit from the College of Social Sciences’ Graduate School Research Training Programme, as well as an annual Thesis Review Committee and an annual Doctoral Retreat. PhD students may also have the opportunity to become Graduate Teaching Assistants and gain teaching experience.

Candidates must be fluent in English. A good command of another European language would be an advantage.

How to apply

Please include the following supporting documentation with your application:

  • Your CV
  • Your research proposal focusing on one of the actors/factors outlined above (max. 2500 words, including footnotes, references and bibliography)
  • Your degree transcripts
  • Your English language certificate
  • Two letters of reference

Interested candidates should apply on the University of Glasgow’s Online Application System Applicants should put ‘EURECON’ in the ‘Research Title’ field in ‘Step 6 – Course Details’ of the application form, and select ‘PhD in Economic and Social History (Research)’.

Interested applicants are strongly advised to discuss their research proposal with Dr Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol ( before they apply.

Short-listed candidates may be invited for an interview in Glasgow.
Application deadline is 7 May 2017.