The Professionalization of the Corporate Archivist

28 05 2015

AS: Management academics are increasingly interested in the evolution and function of corporate archives and the people who manage these important corporate assets. I’ve pasted below the abstract of Roy Suddaby’s new paper “The Professionalization of the Corporate Archivist” Roy is the Winspear Chair of Management at the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria and a Professor and Strategic Research Advisor, Newcastle University Business School



The corporate historian is a fairly recent innovation. Although historians have had a long association with corporations, as biographers, consultants and advisors, the formal role of corporate historian or archivist appears to emerge as a distinct professional category in large US corporations in the early 1980s. The emergence of the corporate historian as a distinct occupational category raises a number of important theoretical and empirical questions. Why did the occupational category emerge now and not contemporaneously with the emergence of the corporate form? What is the professional project of the corporate historian? What does the emergence of the corporate historian tell us about the way in which non-traditional professions are constructed in the twenty first century? What are the implications for history when the core institutional affiliation of the historian is with a corporation rather than the university?

This paper addresses these questions through a detailed analysis of the emergence of the corporate historian. Drawing from archival data as well as ongoing interviews with a variety of corporate historians and archivists from Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 corporations. Initial results demonstrate the important symbiotic dynamics of institutions and professions in generating occupational categories. A key conclusion of the study is that, as an ascendant institution, the modern corporation is as capable of generating new professions as were previous institutions such as the nation state and the university.



2 responses

3 06 2015
Jeannette Strickland

As one of the archivists interviewed by Roy for this study I’m looking forward to reading the paper. Do you know where/when it will be published?

11 06 2015

I’ll ask!

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