Banking on identity: Constructing a Canadian banking identity one branch at a time

18 08 2017

The Journal of Historical Sociology (impact factor: 0.553) has published a paper that should interest all Canadian business historians and all historians of financial institutions. The author is Simarjit S. Bal, a PhD student in Political Science, University of Alberta. I hope to meet Simarjit, perhaps at a future event organized by the Canadian Business History Association.

 

Abstract:

This paper seeks to explore the role that the Canadian branch banking structure has played in producing a national Canadian economic space as well as nationally oriented conservative Canadian banking subjects. Explosive growth in the scope of Canadian bank branch networks between 1880 and 1930, both in terms of number of branches and their geographic range, forced banks to re-evaluate their management practices. To manage an increasingly unwieldy structure, banks worked to centralize control and homogenize operations and the bankers themselves. Through centralization, bank head offices developed more robust branch reporting tools, which allowed them collect and repurpose disparate data into new national level information and knowledge. Working as centres of calculation, bank head offices used this new information to integrate a nationalist outlook throughout the network, deploying disciplinary technologies and techniques, in an effort to detach bankers from a local or regional orientation. This paper shows that, rather than merely a tool for efficient allocation of capital, the branching structure is a productive socio-technical structure, which helped to construct the very nature of the national space it sought to manage.





Career Development Fellow – Global History of Capitalism

8 08 2017

University of Oxford – Faculty of History
Salary: £31,076 Grade 7 p.a.
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed on: 1st August 2017
Closes: 13th September 2017
Job Ref: 130104

The Global History of Capitalism project is seeking a dedicated Career Development Fellow to join their team to conduct rigorous academic research and to inform debates on the history of capitalism.

The successful applicant will have an active research interest in the global history of capitalism and be able to work individually and collaboratively with researchers across disciplines. You will conduct relevant archival research as well as field-based research where relevant. You will manage your own academic research and administrative duties, contribute ideas for new projects and collaborate in the presentation of publications. You will also provide teaching relief to one of the Co-Directors  (Chris McKenna) and co-design a new undergraduate course in business history. The postholder will contribute to an edited volume on the global history of capitalism in consultation
with, and under the supervision of the Co-Directors.

You will hold a relevant doctorate (or show evidence that a doctorate is imminent) and have an excellent knowledge of the languages relating to your specialism. You will be able to demonstrate a strong research record and excellent communication skills along with the ability to teach. An ability to work independently as well as collaboratively within a team is essential.

The post is full-time and fixed term for 3 years; the start date is negotiable but must be no later than January 2018.

Applicants are required to submit a research proposal as part of their application.

Applications must be made online. To apply for this role and for further details, including the job description and selection criteria, please click on the link below.

The deadline for applications is 12.00 noon on 13 September 2017.

Applications are particularly welcome from women and black and minority ethnic candidates who are under-represented in research posts in Oxford.

Selection Criteria

Essential
 A doctorate in a relevant field, or evidence that a doctorate is imminently expected;
 Excellent knowledge of relevant research languages;
 Ability and willingness to develop a knowledge of the wider historical context of own research
area, and the project;
 Ability to manage own academic research and associated activities;
 Ability and ambition to produce single-authored publications that reflect both the subject and
methodologies of the project;
 Ability to contribute ideas for new research projects and research income generation;
 Ability and willingness to work as part of a team, share insights and findings, and engage in
collaborative, collective and experimental forms of research and publication;
 Excellent communication skills, including the ability to write for publication, present research
proposals and results, and represent the research group at meetings.
Desirable

 Knowledge of one or more relevant fields (e.g. Business History, Global History);
 Geographic knowledge of one or more related regions within Global History, understood as the
history of the non-Western world;
 Experience of independently managing a discrete area of a research project;
 Experience of actively collaborating in the development of research articles for publication.





My Papers at the Academy of Management 2017

4 08 2017

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I have two papers on the program of the 2017 Academy of Management conference in Atlanta. The first paper is “Berle and Means’ The Modern Corporation and Private Property: an Elitist Stakeholder Model of Corporate Governance” and was co-authored with Kevin Tennent (University of York Management School) and Jason Russell (Empire State College). The second paper, “Resisting Colonialism: Indigenous Social Activists Challenge the Rhetorical History Strategy of a Canadian Conglomerate”, was co-authored with Daniel Simeone, a rising star of a PhD student at McGill.

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The first paper provides a critical reinterpretation of a seminal work. The Modern Corporation and Private Property by Adolf Berle and Gardiner Means (1932) remains of the most cited works in management. Berle and Means, who were important members of the FDR Brains Trust, espoused a stakeholder theory of corporate governance that challenged the,  then-hegemonic idea that the sole purpose of a corporation is to create value for the shareholders. In recent years, a variety of progressive academics have advocated a return to the stakeholder approach to corporate governance advocated by Berle and Means. While we share the concerns of these authors about shareholder value ideology, we wish to point out some of the problems with the particular variant of stakeholder theory advocated by Berle and Means was a decidedly paternalistic one in which upper-echelon managers would rule firms in the interests of workers, shareholders, and other stakeholders but without such stakeholders have a direct voice in the management of the company. The Berle-Means variant of stakeholder theory was thus different from the rival proposals for industrial democracy, whereby the interests of workers and other non-shareholder stakeholders would be safeguarded through institutional mechanisms such as elected representatives on corporate boards.  In the 1920s, there were many such proposals in the United States and Americans seriously considered introducing workplace democracy up until the New Deal, which saw the passage of legislation that effectively outlawed such experiments. The paper will be part of a panel on Historic Management Thinkers & Theorists, Monday, 7 August 2017 9:45AM – 11:15AM, Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Inman room.

 

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The second paper is designed to speak to ongoing debates over rhetorical history and the corporate use of the past. In particular, we discuss the issue of corporate responsibility for historical misdeeds, an issue of global relevance that has been the subject of an excellent recent paper in the AMR. Our paper uses the experience of a single firm, the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), to refine our understanding of how managers modify corporate historical narratives are in response to pressure from social activists and to shifts in the wider culture. Founded in 1670, the HBC is one of the oldest firms in the Western world. Since the start of the twentieth century, the organization has referred frequently to its history in its communication with consumers, workers, and other stakeholders. Since the 1960s, the HBC’s rhetorical history strategy has been adapted in response to profound changes in how Canadians remember their national past, with increasing attention being paid to the experiences of women, workers, racialized minorities and the nation’s Indigenous peoples, including the native groups that had traded with the HBC for centuries. By showing how one corporation’s use of rhetorical history has evolved, this paper will deepen our understanding of how cultural and political context influence how corporations use of the past. The paper documents how the HBC responded to social activists who contested the firm’s version of history by creating their own counter-narratives. You can hear me present the paper on Tuesday, 8 August 8 2017 11:30AM – 1:00PM at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Embassy Hall A. The paper will be part of a panel on Social Concerns and Management History.





Raymond Blake on Canada 150 Chairs

28 07 2017

I respect the scholarly work of Raymond Blake, but his piece in today’s Montreal Gazette about the Canada 150 Chairs program is misleading. Canadian citizens, dual and otherwise, are most welcome to apply for these chairs– the key requirement is that the academic be both employed and resident outside of Canada. Repatriation of good researchers is the primary aim of this program. What I’ve heard suggests that a secondary aim is to attract British and US academics who have become disillusioned with their countries because of Brexit and Trump, respectively.  (For more on how Canadian universities can exploit the misfortunes that Brexit is creating for their UK counterparts, see here). This program is taking advantage of a rare window of opportunity. For various reasons, I know that Canadian citizens who were educated exclusively in Canadian universities are indeed eligible for the Canada150 chairs, or at least the more junior of these chairs (the $300k pa one as the associate professor level, not the $1m pa one). The key problem with this program is that the budget has not provided for spousal hires, which make it a non-starter for many people in the age of Assortative Mating.

If the Canadian government were truly serious about increasing passport diversity within the Canadian professoriate, they would repeal the requirement that the following xenophobic words appear in all Canadian academic job adverts: “All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be given priority.” You can hug as many Syrian refugees as you want for the TV cameras, but until you get rid of that language in job ads, you will not signal openness and meritocracy to the world’s best academic researchers.

 





CFP: Special Issue: War and Peace in Organizational Memory

26 07 2017

MANAGEMENT AND ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY

Call for papers

 

 

Theme

Organizations are known for marking their own centennial, bicentennial and other anniversaries. These celebrations are good opportunities for organizations to reflect on their past. The commissioned corporate history that often stems from these events helps the organization to understand its past. This work can then be used externally to form part of its marketing strategy or internally as a way to firm up its identity (Suddaby, Foster and Quinn Trank 2016). The past and longevity also confers legitimacy upon the organization (Roowaan 2009). Other commemorative dates and remembrance ceremonies are of similar importance. While not the traditional focus of business historians, these dates are nevertheless observed by organizations as they participate in the social process of remembering events. This is especially apparent in the experience of war and, as we have seen more recently, terrorist attacks.
A special Issue of Management and Organizational History will be timed to coincide with 11th November 2018 as the 100th year anniversary of Armistice Day. It will be devoted to the examining the impact that war, as a social and political event, had upon organizational identity. How did organizations understand and rationalize their national, regional, religious or racial identity and behavior in times of conflict? What objects, rituals and ceremonies organizations initiate to remember and commemorate the lives lost in war – if at all? To what extent were memorials or commemorations specific to organisations themselves, albeit embedded within wider systems of meaning? How does the end of conflict and peace time change these gestures or attitudes towards other nations or groups? We welcome empirical and theoretical papers that consider case studies or adopt long run historical analysis as well as encouraging the submission of work that utilizes new approaches to concepts of memory. Papers that examine the influence of World War I would be pertinent contributions to the issue but it is not confined to focusing on this war alone. Submissions that consider other wars or conflicts, such as the Hundred Years War, Wars of Independence, Civil Wars, Napoleonic War, World War II, the Cold War, would be relevant and we invite papers from all periods and geographical zones.

Since the ‘historic turn’, a shift has begun to take place in the study of organizational change whereby business historians and historical analysis more generally has taken a greater role. Using history in forming organizational identity often involves sense-making by companies (Ravasi and Schultz, 2006). Recent research has included analysis of ceremonies, rituals and objects. Rituals, as historic events, contain rich levels of symbolism and follow a set of established conventions (Dacin et al., 2010). Objects, such as ornaments, portraits, other paraphernalia and even architecture or museums, exist as a manifestation of a collective memory, a historical record of the organization’s past (Decker 2014; Suddaby, Foster and Quinn Trank 2016, Barnes and Newton, 2017). They serve as ‘talking points’ or a ‘show and tell’ to explain organizational culture, an event or the meaning of an act which has taken place (Ames, 1980; Rafaeli and Pratt, 1993). Textual and oral memory forms can be used as memory cues, which enable those in the present to construct organizational identity that complies with current and future requirements (Schultz and Hernes 2013, 4). While the past can be used and manipulated, it is not always controlled by those with power at the top of the hierarchy (Rowlinson and Hassard 1993; Maclean et al. 2014).

There is a wealth of literature on the memorialization of war at the individual, national, European and international level. Mosse examines the commemoration of soldiers after war, and the role this has in turning war into a sacred event (1990). The role that remembering of war has in creating both national and European identities is considered by Niznik (2013) and its role in influencing post-war European politics is analyzed by Muller (2002). Others consider an international perspective (Sumartojo and Wellings, 2014), whilst the role of museums in remembering war is considered by Williams (2007) and Kjeldbaek (2009). Yet less has been written about how organizations remember war and how such remembering (or forgetting) influences their identify.
This call for papers invites potential contributions from those that employ innovative methodologies to examine individuals, groups or organizations and their experience of war.

Potential topics might include:

– Corporate acts, events, rituals or memorials that remember the war and lives lost
– Decisions not to mark or otherwise commemorate war and/or conflict
– War reparations and other related acts
– The organization’s narrative of its involvement in the war
– The disruptive atmosphere of war and crisis management on staff
– The impact of war or peace on the organization’s national, regional, religious or racial identity
– Approach of multinational firms to this issue and uniformity or difference in subsidiary organisations
– Remembering as a means of connecting with local stakeholders, such as customers and the general public
– Debates about retaining war memorials and the issues with existing stakeholders

 

Process and timeline

Those interested in potentially contributing should contact the two guest editors at the earliest opportunity:

Victoria Barnes: Barnes@rg.mpg.de
Lucy Newton: L.A.Newton@henley.ac.uk

A paper development workshop will be held in Henley Business School, University of Reading in December 2017.

Manuscripts are to be submitted to Management and Organization History in the normal way. Authors should make it clear that the paper is intended to be part of the Special Issue.

The deadline for submission of papers for the Special Issue is February 28th 2018 with an aim to get final versions accepted by September 2018 for publication.

The Special Issue is timed to coincide with Armistice Day and will appear in November 2018 (Vol. 13, No. 4).





does the protestant ethic matter?

24 07 2017

The 500th anniversary of Luther’s nailing of the theses to the church door has prompted some interesting writing about the Weber thesis and the possible connection between Protestantism and the rise of capitalism.

orgtheory.net

Elizabeth Bruenig has a long review in The Nation on three recent book on Martin Luther, talking about, among other things, how Protestantism set the stage for capitalism and modernity.  The piece, weirdly, doesn’t mention Max Weber at all, or the later questions about whether Weber was right about the Protestant Ethic forming capitalism.

For what it’s worth, it’s pretty unclear if Protestantism did form capitalism, particularly through the disciplinary mechanisms Weber describes. Though it does seem fair to say-and Bruenig nods at this-that Protestantism was actually a series of reforms and internal changes to Christian Europe’s understanding of the self and its relationship to larger organizations and institutions. Most historians of the reformation and church history have the dividing line not really at the 95 theses but at earlier changing understandings of confession and homilies, both of which emphasizes the relevance of the individual believer as an actor in…

View original post 695 more words





Exchange on Management Journal Rankings

14 07 2017

AS: Last week, I blogged about some of the systems used for evaluating the quality of management-school journals. Laurent Ortmans, the FT journalist responsible for the rankings, tried to post a comment in response but for unknown technical reasons neither it nor my (lengthy) response showed up in the Comments section. I’m reposting his comments and an abbreviated version of my reply here.

 

 

Hello Andrew,

Your post contains factual errors about the Financial Times.

It is misleading to state that the FT inadvertently revealed my name. It is public information that I am the statistician in charge of the FT business school rankings.

The list of 50 research journals (FT50 list) itself is not a ranking. We do not rank research journals.

We use the articles published in these journals to produce the FT research rank, one of about 20 different criteria that inform our three MBA rankings. See our MBA methodology https://www.ft.com/content/72b3a752-d9be-11e6-944b-e7eb37a6aa8e

The very first list was initially put together by the business schools that took part in our first MBA ranking back in 1999. Since then, the FT has consulted participating schools every time the list was updated, on the basis of one vote per school.

It is correct that some journals contacted me. However, the revised list is based on the schools’ votes only. Incidentally, Liverpool School of Management was consulted and did contribute to our review process.

For your reference, we have published a short methodology https://www.ft.com/content/3405a512-5cbb-11e1-8f1f-00144feabdc0

 

Hi Laurent, Thanks for getting in touch. That takes guts.

I suppose the decision of the FT to publish your name along with the list wasn’t inadvertent.  It’s true they didn’t really say much about the people making the list.

I’m glad to hear that the lobbying by journals and scholarly organizations didn’t cause you to bend the rules outlined in your methodology.

There was a “short” methodology published, as you note. As I and other said online at the time of its publication, it is far too brief. Here is why I think it is far too brief. There are thousands of biz schools in the world and you only contacted 200. That’s fine, but neither the sampling methodology nor the geographical distribution of the schools is mentioned. What percentage are in each country? How is the weighting done?  Moreover, the way in which the “schools” were contacted wasn’t explained and the text of your communication (probably a mass email) wasn’t published, so we can’t examine its wording, which is crucial in opinion polling. The 67% response rate is mentioned, which is great, but the differences in the response rates between management schools in different countries, etc isn’t specified. To be fully transparent, you should list all of the management schools contacted and all of the one’s that didn’t reply. The date of contact should also probably be mentioned too, since this could affect the response rate. Was the response rate for non-US schools different from US schools?  That’s the type of thing people want to know.

How did each school go about forming its opinion? What were your instructions to the school? How was your contact person in each school? That’s something that should be discussed here as well.

I’m not going to compare this survey of management school opinion to the absurd online polls that tabloid papers run to generate statistics that support their editorial positions.  It reminds me of the Literary Digest polls that were used in the 1920s to predict the results of US presidential elections—these were polls of newspaper editors across the country and each editor was asked “how do people in your town plan to vote?” Gallup polling came along later and got steadily more scientific.

I suggest that next time your preregister your study and its methodology and use Open Data to increase the transparency and legitimacy of your findings. There is a cool organization that promotes the pre-registration of social scientific research.

https://cos.io/prereg/

I will say that the FT polling methodology has less room for bias than the some of the other journal lists that I mocked in my post. And the FT50 is useful for people trying to get promoted- useful intel.