CFP: Methodological Debates in Management History

21 03 2017

Use of Methodology in Management History
Special issue call for papers from Journal of Management History

Guest Editors:
Wim van Lent, Montpellier Business School
Gabrielle Durepos, Mount Saint Vincent University

Submission deadline: 1 February 2018


Ever since the “historical turn” in organisation studies (Clark and Rowlinson 2004), the importance of history to understanding organisations and institutions has been increasingly recognized (e.g. Sydow, Schreyogg and Koch 2009, Ocasio, Mauskapf and Steele 2015, Suddaby 2016, Durepos and Mills 2012). Since history provides an alternative to the dominant science paradigms in organisation studies (Zald 1993), studies using a historical approach are contributing to and even shaping a growing number of scholarly debates (Decker, Kipping and Wadhwani 2015). The growing appreciation of historical approaches to building and testing organisation theory has spawned a body of work on how to engage in historical analysis with the specific aim of bridging the gap between the historical and organisational scientific communities (e.g. Rowlinson, Hassard and Decker 2014, De Jong, Higgins and Van Driel 2015, Whittle and Wilson 2015, Suddaby 2016, Durepos 2015). The fundamental insight that emerges from it is that history is no less fragmented than organisational theory (Rowlinson et al. 2014: 269). According to Bowden (2016), management scholars are essentially divided along a continuum with on the one extreme De Jong et al.’s (2015) position that history should be empirical and theory-oriented, and on the other extreme Whittle and Wilson’s (2015) “ethnomethodological” perspective, which is rooted in postmodernism and takes a more critical perspective on history-writing. Scholars find themselves either on the continuum with genealogy (Decker et al. 2015) and rhetorical history (Suddaby, Foster and Quinn Trank 2010) and even beyond with ANTi-History (Durepos and Mills 2012, 2017).

Although methodological diversity could impede moving the field forward, the variety that they encompass comes with potential, for example in terms of diversity of research questions and richness of historical knowledge (Decker et al. 2015). Fortunately, the conditions for the further development of management history (also in relation to other fields) seem to be in place: despite history’s growing permeation of organisation studies, there is still a lot of evidence enclosed in corporate archives with which management historians can formulate novel insights into the working of organisations and institutions (Rowlinson et al. 2014, Mills and Helms Mills 2017). However, in order to fully realize this potential, management history will have to go beyond “merely” continuing the proliferation of research using alternative types of historical data and analysis. Most importantly, research should be multidisciplinary (Bucheli and Wadhwani 2014), connecting an understanding of organisational theory and methods with historical contexts and source material (Rowlinson et al. 2014), or involving multiple sources and methods for data analysis (Bowden 2016). In addition, since histories are not uncontested records, management history is greatly helped by methodological reflexivity (Rowlinson et al. 2014). That is, when researchers are aware of their role in selecting certain traces over others, what their sources cover, and how and why they were put together, as well as the shaping influence of the historical context within which they construct theoretical arguments, they may improve the plausibility of their analyses and better identify scope conditions (Bowden 2016).

Aims and Scope

This special issue has two broad purposes: 1) to move forward the methodological debates in management history and 2) to demonstrate the use of / refine historical methods in organisational research through empirical analysis. We therefore welcome both theoretical and empirical papers. Below we suggest a non-exhaustive list of specific topics that contribute to the above two goals. Papers focusing on topics that are not included but sufficiently related to the goals highlighted above would also be welcome as submissions to the special issue.

• Epistemology and management history
• Typification of research methodologies
• Novel research methods in management history
• Ways in which different methods can be combined for richer empirical insights
• Empirical demonstrations of the use of one or several methodologies
• Methodological refinement through empirical analysis
• Benefits / drawbacks of research methods for a management history audience

Submission Process

Submitted papers must conform to the submission guidelines of the Journal of Management History. Manuscripts are due by 1 February 2018 and must be submitted using the JMH submission system at Authors should indicate that they would like their document to be considered for the special issue “Uses of Methodology in Management History”. Authors of papers invited to be revised and resubmitted will be expected to work within a tight timeframe for revisions.

Further information
Questions pertaining to this special issue may be directed to:
• Wim van Lent (
• Gabrielle Durepos (
• Bradley Bowden (

For questions about submitting to the special issue contact the JMH Publisher, Patti Davis (


Bowden, B (2016) Editorial and note on the writing of management history. Journal of Management History, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 118-129.
Bucheli M and Wadhwani D (2014) Organizations in time: history, theory, methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Clark P and Rowlinson M (2004) The treatment of history in organisation studies: toward an “historic turn”? Business History, Vol. 46, No. 3, pp. 331-352.
De Jong A, Higgins DM and Van Driel H (2015) Towards a new business history? Business History, Vol. 57, No. 1, pp. 5-29.
Decker S, Kipping M and Wadhwani D (2015) New business histories! Plurality in business history research methods. Business History, Vol. 57, No.1, pp. 30-40.
Durepos G (2015) ANTi-history: Toward amodern histories, in P Genoe McLaren, AJ Mills and T Weatherbee (Eds.), The Routledge companion to management and organisational history (pp. 153-180). New York: Routledge.
Durepos G and Mills A (2012) ANTi-history: Theorizing the past, history, and
historiography in management and organizational studies. Charlotte, NC:
Information Age Publishing.
Durepos G and Mills A (In press, 2017) ANTi-history: An alternative approach to historiography, in C Cassell, A Cunliffe and G Grandy (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative business and management research methods. London: Sage.
Mills A and Helms Mills J (In press, 2017) Archival research, in C Cassell, A Cunliffe and G Grandy (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative business and management research methods. London: SAGE.
Ocasio W, Mauskapf M and Steele CWJ (2016) History, society, and institutions: the role of collective memory in the emergence and evolution of societal logics, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 41, No. 4, pp. 676-699.
Rowlinson M, Hassard J and Decker S (2014) Research strategies for organisational history: a dialogue between historical theory and organization theory, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 39, No. 3, pp. 250-274.
Suddaby R (2016) Toward a historical consciousness: following the historic turn in management thought, M@n@gement, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 46-60.
Suddaby R, Foster W and Quinn Trank C (2010) Rhetorical history as a source of competitive advantage, Advances in Strategic Management, Vol. 27, pp. 147-173.
Sydow J, Schreyögg G and Koch J (2009) Organisational path dependence: opening the black box, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 34, No. 4, pp. 689-709.
Whittle A and Wilson J (2015) Ethnomethodology and the production of history: studying ‘history-in-action’, Business History, Vol. 57, No. 1, pp. 41-63.
Zald M (1993) Organisation studies as a scientific and humanistic enterprise: towards a reconceptualization of the foundations of the field, Organisation Science, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp. 513-528.




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