AoM Symposium on Business History and Deglobalization

20 10 2016

The next Academy of Management conference will take place Atlanta, Georgia, 4-8 August 2017. The Academy hosts symposia that can lead to publication in the Academy of Management Perspectives (AMP) publishes symposia that address important issues concerning management and business. Symposia consists of 4 to 6 papers discussing a well-defined topic. See guidelines here.

According to the Academy, unlike special issues, contributions to symposia are vetted by the symposium organizer, and curated so they complement each other. Examples of topics include, but are not limited to, advances in the neuroscience of decision making, business strategies from data science, the impact of contingent labor force on organizational sustainability, the limits of private/public partnerships on organizational growth, and so on.

The Academy are now calling for new proposals for symposia. I am writing this blog post to gauge the level of interest in a symposium on managerial responses to deglobalization. Since the world economy has experienced cycles of globalization and deglobalization, this symposium would be a great opportunity for business historians to showcase the relevance of their research to a wider range of scholars, including International Management scholars.

The working title of the symposium would be  “Managing in Ages of Deglobalization.” There is a vast literature on how firms have managed the many challenges related to globalization, here defined as falling barriers to the movement of goods and capital across borders. Business historians, along with scholars in such disciplines as economics, economic history, international management, operations management, organization studies, and strategy have contributed to our understanding of how firms have responded to the challenges and opportunities associated with globalization in the last few decades. We also are learning more about how firms took advantage of earlier globalization phases in world history, such as the golden age of globalization that is conventionally regarded to have ended abruptly in  1914 with the outbreak of the First World War.

Unfortunately, we know far less about firms have managed deglobalization — i.e., periods in which globalization goes into reverse and the barriers to international trade reappear, disrupting international value chains. Some research, some of which is in a forthcoming volume on international business strategy and the First World War, has been done but much more knowledge is required. Kindleberger’s seminal research suggests that globalization appears to have been a cyclical process, with periods of global economic integration being punctuated by breakdown in the international economic order and the reversion back in the direction of autarky. If this theory is true, business historians have a great deal to offer to our understanding of how the private-sector can manage deglobalization. Knowing more about managerial responses to globalization is particularly crucial at this point, as the prospect of Brexit and the rise of anti-trade and anti-globalization movements in countries around the world raises the spectre of deglobalization. Indeed, there is some evidence in the international trade data that deglobalization is already taking place (see here, here, and here). The IMF reports that since the 2008, Global Financial Crisis, world trade is now growing at a slower rate than the global economy as a whole.

Are you working on a paper that deals with managerial responses to deglobalization? Would you be interested in presenting it in this prestigious forum? If so, please contact me via email.

In organizing this symposium, I think that we should define both history and deglobalization broadly. Defining history broadly means that papers on recent periods of history would be very welcome. Defining deglobalization broadly involves extending the remit of the paper beyond the study of economic exchange across nation-state borders.  Tyler Cowen has recently pointed out that globalization can take place within countries as the natural and man-made barriers to trade within nations are reduced. In the interests of defining the panel in inclusive terms, I would welcome paper proposals that deal with managerial responses to the breakdown of long-distance supply chains within large nation states, particularly federal ones.


History and Strategy Research: Opening Up the Black Box

20 10 2016
AS: I’m sharing this CFP, which has created a massive buzz in the business history community in the last week, here.  I would imagine that many people will  submit papers to this SI, since the SMJ is a highly ranked journal and many business historians are now doing research on the “Uses of the Past.”
Strategic Management Journal
Call for Papers for a Special Issue
History and Strategy Research: Opening Up the Black Box
Submission Deadline: September 30, 2017
Guest Editors
Nicholas S. Argyres, Washington University in St. Louis
Alfredo De Massis, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano and Lancaster University
Nicolai J. Foss, Bocconi University
Federico Frattini, Politecnico di Milano
Geoffrey Jones, Harvard University
Brian S. Silverman, University of Toronto
SMJ Advising Editors
Sendil Ethiraj and Constance Helfat
Business history and strategy research have traditionally had a close relationship. Thus, Chandler’s seminal research is often seen as key input into the development of strategy as anacademic research field. Historical research methods and historical data are used to study a diverse set of strategic issues including industry evolution, technology strategy, dynamiccapabilities and diffusion of innovation. More recently, interest has been growing with respect to exploring the nexus between history and strategy.
Historical analysis may be broadly defined as “empirical research that uses remote sensing and a contextualist approach to explanation.” Such analysis can be highly useful in strategyresearch that seeks to analyze path dependence or understand the origins/evolution of contemporary phenomena, identify sources of exogenous variation, develop and test historicallyinformed theory, and add more detail to existing theories. Historical analysis allows strategy scholars to historically embed the study of how organizations learn, innovate and makestrategic decisions over time. Equally important, such analysis enables scholars to understand how actors strategically develop interpretations of historical facts that shape theirpresent behavior and set expectations for the future, and use artifacts from the past to create the basis for strategies in the present.
Aims and Scope
This Special Issue will push forward research at the intersection between history and strategy, to further integrate these two disciplines. We welcome empirical papers that applyestablished and innovative research methodologies to strategy questions by using historical data and records. In particular, we encourage research that uses novel datasets that supporttracing over time how organizations, groups and individuals—by acting in a particular historically embedded context, and by mutually interacting—built, implemented and modifiedstrategies. We also call for theoretical modeling that builds on history and provides new insights into the historical implications of strategy.
Below we suggest two research themes that illustrate the intersection of strategy and historical analysis. However, many other such themes can be envisaged and would be welcomeas submissions to the Special Issue.
1.    How do firms, groups and individuals use the past to give meaning to the present, inform their expectations about the future, and make strategic decisions? Within thisresearch theme we encourage scholars to develop a more fine-grained understanding of the way in which the past influences how organizational goals are set, how futuretechnology and market trends are forecast, and how new business opportunities are identified, evaluated and exploited. Path dependence suggests that the decisions anorganization makes are influenced and limited by the decisions it has made in the past. However, we need more precise explanations of how specific and non-recurrent facts (oractions taken) in the past have led to particular strategic behaviors and to the development of organizational capabilities. Such explanations of how the past somehow acquirescognitive salience and normative force can only be developed in close interplay with actual historical inquiry.
2.    How do firms, groups and individuals use knowledge and resources stemming from the past to trigger and realize acts of organizational change and innovation? Currentresearch tends to portray the past as a constraining force that reduces flexibility and produces resistance to change, thus leading to organizational inertia, competence lock-ins, andescalating commitments to past actions. However, research suggests that firms can create competitive advantage through acts of innovation and organizational renewal bysearching for, accessing, and using knowledge created at different points in the past, i.e., through “temporal search.” This opens up a set of timely and relevant research questions.What are the firm-, individual- and group-level capabilities required to successfully search, identify and recombine knowledge resources acquired in the past? How do firms learnto make innovations in their products, services, business models, procedures and strategies from the past? How do innovation processes and practices evolve over time, and howare they shaped by the interactions between firms and the past?
Submission Process
Submitted papers must be in accordance with the requirements of the Strategic Management Journal. Original manuscripts are due by the Submission Deadline of September 30,2017, and must be submitted using the SMJ Submission system at Authors should indicate that they would like the submission to beconsidered for the special issue “History and Strategy Research: Opening Up the Black Box”. Authors of papers invited to be revised and resubmitted will be expected to workwithin a tight timeframe for revisions.
Further Information
Questions pertaining to this special issue may be directed to:
·         Nicholas S. Argyres (
·         Alfredo De Massis (
·         Nicolai J. Foss (
·         Federico Frattini (
·         Geoffrey Jones (
·         Brian S. Silverman (

Come be my colleague! Assistant/Associate Professor Jobs in International Management/Business at University of Liverpool

14 10 2016



£38,896 – £62,323 pa

AACSB accredited and with its full-time MBA ranked in the Economist top 100, the University of Liverpool Management School sits in the top 5% of business schools globally with 150 academic staff who enjoy a strongly collegial, research-supportive, and intellectually vibrant interdisciplinary environment. Well-connected with industry and the professions, the School benefits from its location in a city which combines strong cultural activity, excellent transport links, and regional beauty with a world heritage skyline and is highly ranked on quality of life in the UK. The School is well positioned to enhance its national and international standing as it moves into its next phase of development, giving particular emphasis to developing the reach of its world-class research activity. The School is now looking to recruit two individuals to join the Organisation and Management Group in the area of International Management / Business. You should have a good track record of publications in International Business and/or Management in journals recognised as world-leading or internationally excellent. Your future research plans should demonstrate the capacity to sustain and extend this level of output. We also encourage individuals who have recently graduated from their PhD programmes and who have exciting research plans that are geared towards publication in top journals in the field. If applying at the more senior level, in addition to pursuing your own research, you should have the willingness and the capacity to assume research leadership roles including the supervision of PhD students and the development of grant applications. You should have teaching experience and a willingness to take leadership responsibility for delivering modules, in particular on our International Business UG & PG programmes. You will also share in administrative responsibilities that are part of a vibrant, expanding Management School.

For more information see 

What Do We Know About Tim Hortons’ Joint Venture in the UK?

12 10 2016

News that the Canadian coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons was expanding into the UK generated considerable attention in the media (see here, here, and here). Little attention was paid to the fact that they company opted for a joint venture entry mode and the financial press paid even less attention to who the firm’s local partners were going to be. Perhaps that’s because the parent company of Tim Horton’s, Restaurant Brands International of Oakville, Ontario said very little about the UK partners in its press release, referring simply “to the establishment of a master franchise joint venture with an investor in Great Britain.” The financial press reported that the CEO of the new master franchise was named Gurprit Dhaliwal but said nothing about this individual, which I found rather curious.  Or rather, I was struck by how incurious the business journalists who reported this story were. Nobody bothered to learn anything about either Mr. Dhaliwal or the investors using publicly available data. To be frank, this oversight doesn’t speak well of the quality of Canadian business journalism.

In a spare moment, I decided to do a bit of digging myself. The first thing to point out is that the RBI’s UK business partner does not appear to have anything to do with Tim Hortons Ltd, a property company in Leeds that coincidentally shares a name with the Canadian coffee chain. Tim Hortons UK & Ireland, which was registered in September 2016, has its registered office in Egham, an affluent community in Surrey, that is near London and Heathrow. There are two current directors, Gurprit Dhaliwal of  Wolverhampton, West Midlands (born 1982)  and Surinder Singh Kandola of Egham (born 1965). TH UK & IRELAND LTD was established in July 2016. I’ve posted the details of the registered officer below:



Anyway, I’m posting this information here in the hopes that it sparks the interest of some journalist in Canada or the UK. It seems to me that the story of this brand’s entry in the UK has a number of interesting angles that would make  for a good piece in a business magazine. The fact that a disproportionate number of the individuals involved are from one faith community is very interesting to me as it speaks to the importance of diaspora networks of entrepreneurs, a pattern that is well documented in the academic literature.  I know a number of academic researchers in the fields of international management who would be very interested in meeting and interviewing some of the people involved although we all  understand that ground rules would need to be established before any research began.


Work on the Ideological Origins of the Nobel Prize in Economics

10 10 2016

In connection with today’s announcement of the 2016 winner Nobel Prize in economics, the Long Run blog of the EHS has published a review Amber Offer and Gabriel Soderberg’s The Nobel Factor” The Prize in Economics, Social Democracy and the Market Turn (Princeton, 2016). This book gives a good historical explanation for why the economics Nobel exists and the role of the Nobel Prize in the politics of the last half century.

Another perspective on the economics Nobel is provided by this October 2015 podcast by Freakonomics Radio.




One Business Historian’s Thoughts About Theresanomics

6 10 2016

The recent Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham may likely be regarded by future historians as a turning point in the British Conservative Party, the moment when the party repudiated the individualist/free-market Hayekian ideas of the Thatcher era and moved towards in a more illiberal era. Along with the Brexit vote, it may also be regarded as a turning point in the history of global economic integration and the beginning of another de-globalization era. There is some evidence in the trade data and investment flow data to suggest that de-globalization began with the 2008 financial crisis, but I’m more interested in the erosion of the cultural foundation of globalization represented by the recent turn of events in the UK (see here, here, and here).

I’m struck by the increasingly illiberal rhetoric of the Conservative Party. In this context, I am using liberal in the strict sense to refer to a world view that favours open markets and borders and the liberalization of international trade. At the Conservative Party conference, Theresa May presented what some observers regarded as an inconsistent mixture of left-wing economic and right-wing cultural ideas.  I’m inclined to agree with ITV’s Robert Peston that her cocktail of policies can be regarded as an intellectually consistent system, albeit one that it is profoundly at odds with the individualism espoused by the Conservative Party in the Thatcher Era. In his analysis of her speech, he kept referring to it as “illiberal”.

Theresa May presented an economic agenda that would have been regarded as unacceptably leftwing for even a Labour Party leader just a few years ago, when the last embers of 1980s-style neoliberalism were still burning faintly. Her conference speech, which was explicitly designed to appeal to working-class Englishmen and Englishwomen, spoke of heavier taxes on companies, tighter restrictions on immigration, and, of course, direct worker representation on corporate boards, an astonishing innovation in Anglo-American corporate governance. On top of this, she appears to favour a “Hard Brexit,” a policy opposed by almost all large firms in the UK.  As journalists have noted, her rhetoric on these economic issues was essentially left-wing.  Theresa May also spoke of a law and order agenda and of cracking down on criminals, particularly the foreign born.  Someone I know who hails from a large country in Continental Europe quipped that May’s agenda was “national socialist.” It’s a farfetched comparison and one I found faintly offensive, as the UK remains a deeply liberal country in every sense of the word. (UK Tories are immensely liberal compared to say, the Trump Party of the United States or the truly xenophobic parties of the Accession States in the eastern parts of the EU). However, there is a grain of truth about this joke about our direction of travel.

Here is a sample of the rhetoric from Theresa May’s speech.  I’ve put certain words in bold for emphasis.

tax is the price we pay for living in a civilised society. Nobody, no individual tycoon and no single business, however rich, has succeeded on their own. Their goods are transported by road, their workers are educated in schools, their customers are part of sophisticated networks taking in the private sector, the public sector and charities. We’ve all played a part in that success. If you’re a tax-dodger, we’re coming after you.

the central tenet of my belief is that there is more to life than individualism and self-interest.We form families, communities, towns, cities, counties and nations. We have a responsibility to one another. And I firmly believe that government has a responsibility too… the Government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the rich and powerful, but by the interests of ordinary, working class people.

Only time will tell whether Theresa May’s government is, in practice, radically different in its economic policies than its predecessors, the brief Cameron majority, the Coalition, and the New Labour and Conservative governments before that. The rhetoric, however, is strikingly different from that of any party of government in Britain since the 1970s.

I see two connections between the trends in political culture represented by Theresanomics and the strands in my research portfolio. The first of these connections relates to my research on the impact of deglobalization on business culture and strategy. One of my research themes is about the tension between liberal and cosmopolitan and illiberal/nationalist sentiment in British business culture in the early twentieth century. As Charles Jones persuasively argued long ago in an unfairly neglected work, the years immediately prior to the First World War witnessed the fragmentation of the transnational bourgeoisie associated with the Era of the Free Trade and classical liberalism: the rise of economic nationalism within and around business communities promoted the rise of more intense national consciousness on the part of business people. The mid-Victorian liberal dream of a world economy in which national borders and citizenship was eclipsed in this era. I have a couple of paper projects that relate to this period, which saw the end of the pre-1914 era of globalization and the inauguration of several decades of deglobalization.

The second connection between Theresanomics and my research relates to the Prime Minister’s adroit use of the past, or, in the parlance of many organization studies scholars, her “rhetorical history.” Part of my research is now about how companies use history and I am therefore fascinated by how Theresa May has used historical figures and heroes to stake out her own identity as a Tory collectivist. It is no coincidence that the Conservative Party conference was held in Birmingham, the home of Joseph Chamberlain, the Conservative politician who pioneered a series of left-wing policies, including municipal socialism and who later came to advocate an end to Britain’s policy of Free Trade. Chamberlain was a deeply polarizing figure in British politics in the first decade of the twentieth century, the era I have been researching in the business-historical papers discussed above. Theresa May regards Joseph Chamberlain  something of a role model (see here and here).

P.S. The excellent Evan Davis presents a radio programme called The Bottom Line. This week he was speaking to four business leaders about “Theresanomics.” I’ve borrowed that term, which was also used by The Economist, for my blog post,

Kobrak on Deutsche Bank and the United States

30 09 2016



Deutsche Bank  dominates the headlines today (see here, here, and here). For anyone seeking an understanding of the long-term roots of the problems now confronting Deutsche Bank, Christopher Kobrak‘s Banking on Global Markets: Deutsche Bank and the United States, 1870 to the Present (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007) is truly essential reading. Deutsche Bank’s current woes stem, in large part, from its US operations and, one can argue, from the bank’s expansion in in recent decades, a process associated with its acquisition of  Morgan Grenfell in 1989 and then the Bankers Trust in 1997.

In this essentially unrelated video, Prof. Kobrak discusses the history of financial crises. It seems like a good time to share it, nothwithstanding the Wall Street Journal‘s confident declaration that Deutsche Bank will escape the fate of Lehman Brothers.