Location, Location, Location

2 02 2017

I’m sometimes a bit frustrated by my fellow business and economic historians. There is tremendous pent-up demand for our services from private industry: CEOs and other decision-makers recognize the value of our research in understanding such complex phenomena as political risk. However, whenever there is a crisis that illustrates the limitations of research methods of the more successful academic disciplines (by successful, I mean capable to capturing societal resources), we historians squander the opportunity to take advantage of a brief window of opportunity. In 2008-9, there was a lot of talk about business historians displacing the economists, getting our research in the limelight by showing its relevance.  A few business historians, most notable the excellent Bloomberg columnist Stephen Mihm have risen to the occasion but most have not been able to engage with decision-makers and the general public.

Sometimes something as simple as a poor location decision can get in the way of allowing smart academics to speak to smart people in the private sector. Here is a case in point. The British Academy of Management (BAM) is organizing an event called Managing political risk and uncertainty from historical perspective. They have some great speakers and the event is timely for all sorts of geopolitical reasons.

Where is this wonderful event taking place? Will it be held in BAM’s offices on Euston Road in London, which are a few underground stops from the financial district? Is it instead being held a prestigious business school whose alumni network includes people who make firm strategy? It is being held in the evening to allow busy business people to attend after the workday? No, instead it will be held in the city of Coventry in a facility that is a 25-minute walk from the railway station and which is surrounded by a vast, windswept carpark. Coventry University’s London campus, which is in the financial district, would have been a far, far better choice. There simply aren’t a lot of business decision-makers in Coventry.

Anyway, here is a description of the event. Full details are available via BAM.

I wish the organizers of this event the best of luck, but the location is wrong, wrong, wrong!

We are delighted to announce the upcoming Joint BAM SIG Event Managing political risk and uncertainty from historical perspective, taking place on the 27th February 2017 from 10.00 to 17.00 at Coventry University Technology Park.


In a climate of increased political volatility, this workshop will examine organisational responses to political risk and uncertainty over time. It will explore the development of theoretical and methodological approaches to analysing non-market strategy and the management of political risk, specifically focusing on how history has been used. The workshop aims to generate discussion around the contribution to be made by history to the scholarship in this field.

Invited Speakers

Prof Steven McGuire, School of Business, Management and Economics, University of Sussex

Prof Thomas Lawton, Open University Business School

Prof Emeritus Michael Moran, School of Government, University of Manchester

Prof Neil Rollings, Economic and Social History, University of Glasgow



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