Join the Editorial Team of Business History

20 10 2020


Applications are invited for one Co-Editor to join the Editorial Team for
Business History

In the British ABS journal ranking system, this journal is ranked 3. In the Australian Business School Deans List ranking system, in which journals are ranked A*, A, B, or C, Business History is ranked A. In the French CNRS journal ranking system, in lower numbers are better, Business History  is ranked 2.

The position is for a term of three years starting in January 2021, renewable by mutual consent for further terms at Routledge’s discretion.

About the Journal

Business History is an international journal concerned with the long-run evolution and contemporary operation of business systems and enterprises. Its primary purpose is to make available the findings of advanced research, empirical and conceptual, into matters of global significance, such as corporate organization and growth, multinational enterprise, business efficiency, entrepreneurship, technological change, finance, marketing, human resource management, professionalization and business culture.
The Journal has won a reputation for academic excellence and has a wide readership amongst management specialists, economists and other social scientists and economic, social, labour and business historians.

Business History: The emerging agenda

The core strategy of Business History is to promote business history as a sui generis scholarly discipline, engaging on an equal footing with mainstream history and the wider social sciences. To achieve this, the Journal will continue to be international, comparative, thematic and theoretically informed. In the post-Chandler world, the agenda for business history is to extend its scale and scope specifically to:

• widen its international scope: business activities in underrepresented regions, for example Latin America, Africa and Asia
• go back beyond the 19th and 20th centuries to include ancient, medieval and early modern eras
• inform the policy agenda; historical examples of regulatory success and failure, nationalisations and privatisations
• engage with the business and management agendas; entrepreneurship, competitive advantage, corporate governance
• theoretical development; independent theory or theories of business history

All research articles in this journal are rigorously peer reviewed, based on initial editor screening and anonymized reviewing by at least two referees.
The Journal is indexed in the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus and numerous business journal quality lists, such as the CABS and ABDC lists. Please visit http://www.tandfonline.com/fbsh for additional information about the Journal and Publisher.

Job Description

We are seeking one Co-Editor to join the Editorial Team to drive the strategy for Business History, working to enhance the impact and reputation of the Journal. The Co-Editor will manage the peer-review process for papers assigned to them, recommending high quality papers to publish.
Routledge provide an annual contribution to expenses incurred by the

Editorial team.

Key Tasks

The tasks to be undertaken will include but will not be limited to:
• Working with the Editorial Team, Routledge and the Editorial Board to develop the editorial strategy and direction of Business History and acting as an ambassador for the Journal;
• Attendance and networking at international conferences, which may be online or in person, and events to promote Business History and solicit submissions, invited contributions, and special issue proposals;
• Responsibility for enhancing the quality and reputation of Business History, particularly in relation to the quantity, quality and timeliness of published research;
• Commissioning topical special issues with active, well-respected Guest Editors;
• Day-to-day manuscript and peer review management including selecting and managing peer reviewers and making recommendations for the final decision on papers assigned to you;
• Ensuring that all reviewers and authors uphold the Journal’s code of publishing ethics;
• Working with the Editorial Team to refresh the Editorial Board and pool of reviewers as necessary in terms of subject specialisms and geographical representation;
• Attending Editorial Team / Editorial Board meetings annually.
Candidate Experience

We are seeking an outstanding and professional academic who is actively involved in the disciplines covered by Business History, with an international reputation for research excellence, and a passion for communication. Prior experience of editing an established journal is preferred, but not essential.


Applicants should be actively involved in networks within the field. Key qualities sought for the positions include energy, enthusiasm, managerial skills to oversee the editorial cycle, an understanding of research and publishing ethics, and the ability to meet deadlines and work effectively with Editorial Team members and a major publisher.

Application Procedure

Applications must include a letter of interest, specifically referring to why you believe you are particularly qualified for the role of Co-Editor as part of an Editorial Team for Business History, and how you see your role in the future development and direction of the Journal (maximum of 1 side of A4). CVs should also be submitted.


To submit your application, or for further details, please contact:
• Neil Rollings, Editor-in-Chief, Business History, Neil.Rollings@glasgow.ac.uk
• Stephanie Decker, Editor-in-Chief, Business History, stephanie.decker@bristol.ac.uk
• James Cleaver, Portfolio Manager for Business, Management & Accounting Journals, Routledge, James.Cleaver@tandf.co.uk.

Anyone who wishes to discuss these positions informally with the Editors-in-Chief are welcome to contact Neil Rollings or Stephanie Decker at the email addresses given above.

The deadline for applications is Monday 16th November 2020.
Candidates who pass the initial screening stage will be invited for an interview with the Editors-in-Chief, which will be over video link.
All applications will be treated as strictly confidential. Routledge and the Editors-in-Chief will judge each on its merits without regard to the race, religion, nationality, sex, seniority, or institutional affiliation of the candidate.





My Thoughts on Lipartito on “The Ontology of Economic Things”

9 10 2020

The distinguished business historian Ken Lipartito has published a very thoughtful piece in Enterprise and Society about the advantages and disadvantages of adopting methodological individualist lenses in the course of doing business-historical research. In the paper, Lipartito demonstrates a high degree of theoretical fluency. I agree with much, perhaps 95%, of what he says. It is clear that we like to read the same types of theory (NIE, Schelling, Foss on microfoundations, Latour, etc). Let me focus on the 5% disagreement I have with Lipartito. I think that my disagreements with specific statements in his paper stem from slightly different meta-theoretical assumptions (that is assumptions about the production and use of theory): I tend to judge whether to use a given theoretical lens based on whether doing so is instrumentally useful to the researcher’s career and helps the researcher to create knowledge that is useful to non-academic stakeholders, such as firms and policymakers.  I’m also operating in slightly different cultural context (I live and work in the homeland of Charles Darwin, where evolutionary thinking and evolutionary psychology are more socially acceptable than they are in many parts of American society, including those that think of themselves as liberal in US terms). I’m also at a different career stage than Ken is and have a different incentive structure.

Lipartito (2020, p.597), writes “We can also expand the scope of methodological individualism by looking more deeply at human motivations, rather than just assuming a narrow, instrumental rationality. Critiquing economic models for treating people as “rational fools,” economist Amartya Sen points out that people in fact have a wide range of goals, strategies, and desires. They may be interested in loyalty, solidarity, and morality, all things that subordinate self-interest and own-goal seeking to the interests of the group or a shared principle.”

I totally agree with this statement, but believe in that accounting for why human beings are not as selfish as the Econ 101 model of human nature might suggest, it would be very useful to draw on evolutionary psychology, particularly the newer variants grounded in Multi-Level Selection Theory, explains why a desire to take care of one’s group is deeply ingrained in human nature, thanks to millions of years living in small hunter-gatherer bands that punished individuals who were purely selfish.  I therefore think that Ken should engage more fully and sympathetically with evolutionary psychology than he does in this paper.

Evolutionary psychology emerged in the 1970s and 1980s in an attempt to explain certain features of human nature as the functional products of natural selection in the evolutionary environment (Dawkins, 1976; Wilson, 1999). Initially controversial, the main premises of evolutionary psychology now enjoy widespread support in psychology and political science and in behavioural finance (!!!!) and in medical schools. The currently anti-obesity campaign run by the NHS and Public Health England was designed by people who explicitly acknowledged their debts to evolutionary psychology, which teams that our evolutionary heritage predisposes people (including me!!) in the modern, calorie-rich environment to overconsume foods, particularly sweet foodstuffs that were scarce in the evolutionary environment. (That insight would, I think, be useful to any historian want to write about the history of the junk food industry). Anyway,  MLS theory, which posits that natural selection sometimes involves competition between individuals, and simultaneously acts on multiple levels ranging from the gene and the cell, up to communities and entire species (Kramer & Meunier, 2016). MLS thus differs from the older versions of evolutionary theory that conceptualise competition as taking place primarily between individuals (e.g., Dawkins, 1976; Nicholson 2008). I think that Ken’s target should be this older version of evolutionary psychology, not the MLS theory developed more recently in the wake of the seminal work of David Sloan Wilson and others.

On page 616, Ken writes appears to endorse the adoption by business historians of “new social ontologies” to replace the variants of methodological individualism whose faults he identifies earlier in the paper. He writes:

Agency and structure, materialism and mentality, subject and object were the dichotomous problematics that models of the social had to address. The new social ontologies seek to bypass these dichotomies by recognizing the wide variety of entities,material and human, that constitute any social fact or thing we care to identify. The result is to shift the emphasis to the ways that social things are constructed, and the contingent nature of those constructions.

Right, this passage prompts me to ask two genuine, non-rhetorical questions.

First, what would be the practical advantage to business historians seeking to develop their careers and to contribute knowledge that is useful to non-academics of adopting the new social ontologies? Would doing so help us to get papers into the top journals needed for promotion? Would discarding all of the existing variants of methodological individualism and adopting an approach similar to the Latourian actor-network ANTi-History lens associated with Gabby Durepos help us to produce knowledge that is more useful to, say, MBA students or policymakers or managers in firms?  Or would we be better served by the using some variant of methodological individualism, albeit one that is rooted in the findings of biologists such as David Sloan Wilson, psychologists such as Joseph Henrich, and the work of Nicholas A. Christakis of the Human Nature Lab at Yale? I’m genuinely agnostic on that question, at least right now.

Second, what are the methodological implications of adopting the theoretical lens proposed in this paper? Although I am more agnostic about which theoretical lenses we as business historians use, I am a strong advocate of the use of corporate archives. In the past, Ken has written brilliantly and influentially about the use of historical primary sources (a recent historical paper in ASQ draws on his methodology paper). Would adopting a Latourian ANTi-History lens require us to shifting to using different sources and research methods? His paper, perhaps because of space constraints, doesn’t talk about Durepos and the methodologies used by other ANTi-history scholars in Canadian and other business schools.





Decolonising the Curriculum: Insights from the Golden Age of Black Business

24 09 2020

The events of the last six months, which include the ‘Black Lives Matter moment’, have encouraged a renewed emphasis on equality and justice issues in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other countries. The need to decolonise the curriculum of management schools has been discussed extensively in this context. In the past, I have argued that eliminating the vestiges of colonialism from our thinking can allow us to make better decisions, particularly in a business context..

In October, my department will welcome two guest speakers from the United States, Leon Prieto and Simone Phipps, who will talk about their efforts to decolonise management research and teaching and to engage more effectively with African-American management learners. We believe that their presentation will be of interest to staff in the SIBE group, across the management school, and indeed the wider university community.  A recent online presentation by Professors Prieto and Phipps to the Academy of Management attracted considerable interest and was well attended. Their recent article in the MIT Sloan Management Review has prompted online debate.

I’m very proud to have helped to organise this talk.

Decolonising the Curriculum: Insights from the Golden Age of Black Business

Leon Prieto (Associate Professor of Management, Clayton State University/ Associate Research Fellow Judge Business School, University of Cambridge) and Simone Phipps (Associate Professor of Management, Middle Georgia State University/ Associate Research Fellow Judge Business School, University of Cambridge)

Black entrepreneurs, managers, and management thought leaders are generally conspicuously absent from management research, omitted, not because they did not contribute, but because they and their contributions have been ignored or overlooked. In this era of Black Lives Matter, the decolonisation of the management curriculum is even more pertinent as it relates to the acknowledgment that Black lives and minds do matter, and should be prominently featured in business education. This session explores the contributions of two of the many Black management thought leaders and practitioners, namely Charles Clinton Spaulding (President of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company) and Maggie Lena Walker (President of St. Luke Penny Savings Bank). Also, the link between decolonisation of the curriculum (including teaching about Black managers and entrepreneurs) and student inspiration will be discussed. Finally, the session will include practical ways to decolonise and revolutionise the curriculum to make it more diverse and inclusive.  





Historical Cognition and Strategic Entrepreneurship

23 09 2020

That’s the title of a forthcoming webinar by Diego Coraiola, University of Alberta.  25/09/2020 @ 16.00 hrs London. Register hereSee abstract below.

There is an emerging ‘historical turn’ in strategy and entrepreneurship research. Scholars are realizing that history can be a source of competitive heterogeneity and foster entrepreneurial action. However, scholars disagree upon the reasons why history matters. Objective approaches have theorized the inertial and path dependence effects of historically acquired resources and competencies. Contrarily, narrative approaches argue that history can be conceived as a form of rhetoric used to generate competitive advantage. Thus, in spite of the recognized importance of history for entrepreneurial and strategic behaviour, we lack an overarching theoretical framework clarifying the role of history in strategic entrepreneurship. In this chapter, we develop an integrative approach to history grounded on the notion of historical consciousness. Our cognitive view of history integrates previous approaches and outlines new avenues for the study of strategic entrepreneurship.





Historical Cognition and Strategic Entrepreneurship

23 09 2020




Historical Perspective on the State Aid Controversy

21 09 2020

One of the major stumbling blocks that has emerged in the negotiations over an EU-UK trade agreement is the UK’s government insistence on the end of the EU rules that restrict its ability to aid British companies (see here, here, and here). Some of us here in the United Kingdom are extremely concerned that that there will be an increase in “corporate welfare” once the European Union’s restrictions on state aid to private firms cease to apply to the British government, which will occur when British government policies are no longer subject to review by the European Court of Justice. Some of the more interventionist-nationalist Conservatives support Brexit because it will give British policymaker “subsidy freedom”.

In this context, the publication of new paper by David Clayton and David Higgins on the historical backstory is particularly timely. ‘Buy British’: An analysis of UK attempts to turn a slogan into government policy in the 1970s and 1980s.’

Abstract: This article uses newly available state and business records to investigate the effectiveness of Buy British policies when Britain was a member of the EEC between the early 1970s and the mid-1980s – a period of rapid import penetration and deindustrialisation. We show that government pursued a range of overt and covert measures to combat these economic problems. Overt measures sought to encourage domestic consumers to buy British; covert measures, involving nationalised industries and public procurement, attempted to encourage British firms to source domestically. The article contributes to the emerging business history literature on how Member States tried to exploit loopholes in EEC competition and commercial policy, and it provides new evidence on UK consumer preferences for domestic and imported manufactures.





Friedman on the Purpose of the Corporation at 50

15 09 2020

Fifty years ago, Milton Friedman published his frequently debated essay on the purpose of the corporation in the New York Times Magazine. In it, Friedman attached the idea that it was the job of business executives to use firm resource to address social issues such as racial discrimination and pollution by arguing forcefully that their job was solely to make profits for the shareholders. The anniversary of the essay has been marked with a flurry of online publications (see here, here, and here). Fairly typical of these comments on Friedman’s legacy were the words of Anand Giridharadas, who described Friedman as a “capital supremacist” and declared that “Today in America someone will be laid off right after his or her company announced record earnings. Someone’s hours will be cut without notice. Someone’s water will be poisoned by fracking. And among the pantheon of villains they can thank is Milton Friedman.”

Portrait of Milton Friedman.jpg:, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26693111

I’m struck by the tendency of most of the writers who have participated in this debate to assume that Friedman’s essay was influential, that it caused changes in corporate behaviour. I certainly do not dispute that ideas have consequences and that business intellectuals such as Friedman can have an influence on the real world of material conditions by changing the thinking of decision-makers. However, I’ve noticed an absence of serious historical research on the question of how influential Friedman’s ideas were. Such research would begin by answering really simple questions such as “how many people paid attention to Friedman’s essay at the time it was published? How many letters to the editor did it prompt?”

As scholars who wish to speak to practitioners whilst remaining rigorous, we need to think about what sorts of research methods would allow us to determine the actual influence of Friedman and other writers on the shareholder value revolution of the 1980s. Perhaps the revolution would have happened in the absence of their writings, as Prof. Brian Cheffins has suggested?

Trying to determine the real-world impact of academic writings about business is an issue that I have been wrestling with for some time (for theoretical considerations on the role of ideational factors in historical change, please see the co-authored paper I published in Economic and Industrial Democracy). I haven’t published on Friedman’s 1970 article and its role, if any, in the shareholder value revolution, but I have looked that reception of the text that helped to shape the predecessor ideology that shaped American corporate governance from the 1920s to the late 1970s, namely The Modern Corporation and Private Property (see here and here).

In a recent paper in which they reflected on Friedman’s theory of corporate purpose, Oliver Hart and Luigi Zingales (2017, p. 19) observed that the SEC may have contributed to the rise of the shareholder value ideology (shareholder primacy principle). The SEC rules limit the extent to which social and ethical issues can be discussed at company AGMs which, according to Hart and Zingales, have helped to produce a business culture in which there is an amoral focus on profit maximization.

Ironically, in the United States proxy access rules are not designed to solve this problem—if anything they go in the opposite direction. Under rule 14a-8, the SEC requirement to include shareholders’ proposals in companies’ proxy material is limited to “proper subjects for action.” The SEC later opined that “proposals which deal with general political, social or
economic matters are not, within the meaning of the Rule, ‘proper subjects for action by security holders’”. Consistent with this approach, in 1951 a federal court upheld the exclusion of a proposal seeking desegregation of buses as an improper subject for shareholders (Peck v. Greyhound, 97 F. Supp. 679, 680, S.D.N.Y. 1951). In 1954, the SEC added the “ordinary
business” exclusion, which further limited the ability of shareholders to introduce social considerations in proxy ballots. In the late 1970’s the SEC introduced the idea that the “ordinary business exclusion” would not apply to matters with significant policy implications, such as tobacco to minors,
nuclear power and the like (Andersen
[SIC], 2016). The effective boundaries of this public policy exception are heavily litigated to this day (see the Walmart case mentioned above). Overall, it is fair to say that law and regulation have not helped to prevent the amoral drift.

The passage I have quoted above suggests that the chain of causation that links Friedman’s ideas with the shareholder value revolution may run through the SEC and indicates a new avenue of business-historical research.





EBHA E-Congress, September 10 and 11, 2020

30 08 2020

The European Business History Association conference was supposed to take place in Nagoya, Japan this month. It has been postponed for a year because of the pandemic. The EBHA has organised a small but excellent e-conference at which I will be speaking about the challenges of online teaching.  The keynote address will be delivered by Martin Wolf, a Financial Times columnist who is a great defender of globalization, international trade, and liberal values. The title of the e-conference is “Globalization Challenged”.  Please register here.

EBHA E-Congress, September 10 and 11, 2020
Hosted by CUNEF – Madrid (Zoom Platform)

After registration, you will receive a link to the Zoom platform (same link for all the congress, except
EBHA AGM)
Globalization Challenged

Thursday, September 10 th, 2020
Session 1
4.00 – 5.30 pm CEST
Introduction and Chair: Andrea Colli, EBHA President
Keynote Speech, Martin Wolf, Financial Times
Discussant: Teresa Da Silva Lopes, EBHA Vice-president

Friday, September 11th, 2020
Session 2
10.00-11.45 am CEST
Introduction and Chair: Bram Bouwens
Globalization Challenged: the perspective of Business History
Panelists:
1) Tomasz Olejniczak, Kozminski University (Warsaw) Department of Management
2) Grace Ballor, Harvard Business School
3) Ann-Kristine Bergquist, Department of Economic History, Umeå University
4) Edoardo Altamura, Department of International History, Graduate Institute of International and
Development Studies (Geneva)

12.00-12.45 am CEST: EBHA AGM (in a separate virtual room)
Registration required (EBHA members only): https://ebha.org/public/C5
2.30-4.00 pm

Virtual Roundtable “Teaching Business History in Distance Learning” Coordinator: Maiju Wuokko
Same Zoom address than the Congress





Koyama on State Capacity and the Response of Western Nations to Coronavirus

29 08 2020

Over at Works in Progress, economic historian Mark Koyama has published a thoughtful essay that draws on the historical research on state capacity to explain why Western nations, particularly the United States, have handled the pandemic less effectively than many East Asian countries.

State capacity refers to the ability of the state to enact and enforce its policies. It is often broken down into two components: fiscal capacity – the state’s ability to raise revenue via taxation without mass evasion – and administrative or legal capacity – the ability to create and enforce its rules. Fiscal capacity matters because a state needs revenue in order to operate. Administrative or legal capacity matters because it is what allows states to actually operationalize their policy goals. While the analogy is not perfect, in a meaningful sense state capacity can be thought of as a form of capital: it requires investment to build, and it can easily deteriorate and corrode.

Koyama shows that while the US is a rich country, its level of state capacity is somewhat lower than what one would predict just by looking at GDP per capita alone and that this weak state capacity helps to explain why the death toll in the US is so appallingly high.

I like Koyama use of the concept of state capacity as it cuts through the standard nostrums of both the political right and the political left and uses historical and comparative data to help us to think about the capacity of governments to competently deliver public goods.

Works in Progress has recently published a couple of good pieces by researchers that use the concept of state capacity to understand current events (see here and here).

 

 

 





Scott Sumner on Pro-Brexit Intellectuals

28 08 2020

One of my favourite academic bloggers is Scott Sumner. I find that his analysis of economic policy is characterised by a very reasonable, evidence-based perspective, intelligent application of theory, good awareness of developments in China, and refreshingly non-parochial point of view.

In a recent blog post, he observes that the public intellectuals who advocated for Brexit in 2016 did so on the grounds that leaving the UK would somehow turn the UK into a deregulated, free-market type society of the type favoured by US libertarians, Brexit, or at least the Conservative governments that are in charge of the Brexit process appears to be moving the UK in the opposite direction–away from a Thatcherite belief in the superiority of markets over states. The Boris Johnson government has done a little bit of deregulation in the area of local planning reform but it generally speaking a collectivist sort of Conservative government that is intent on using the powers of the state to reduce income inequality, increase the role of public ownership in the economy, and redistribute wealth to the poorer regions that voted Leave. Johnson government has moved in the quasi-socialist system, which is exactly what libertarian opponents of Brexit such as Bjorn Lomborg predicted when he wrote a blog post in 2016 that attacked Brexit.

Sumner argues that the drift of the UK towards collectivist conservatism is because the largely working class people in traditionally Labour towns who voted for Brexit were motivated by opposition to immigration rather than any desire to roll back the state. I think that this statement is largely correct, but I think that Sumner is mistaken when he says that the intellectuals who supported Brexit generally did so on libertarian grounds related to the alleged tendency of the EU to impose lots of regulations on business. It is true that some of the public intellectuals who spoke in favour of Brexit, such as Viscount Ridley, did so using language that would likely appeal to US libertarians, and in online fora that are frequently read in the United States, but many of the other public intellectuals who spoke in 2016 in favour of Brexit (the historians Andrew Roberts  and Alan Sked) did so using arguments that were about sovereignty and  national identity that had nothing to do with debates about the role of state in the economy. It should also not be forgotten that many old school social democrats who opposed UK membership in the EEC in the 1970s and 1980s also supported Brexit, albeit more quietly in 2016.

Bottom line: only some of the public intellectuals who supported Brexit in 2016 did so on libertarian grounds and they were probably not that influential in the UK, no matter how many readers they would have in the US.