Summer School Opportunity for Business History PhD Students

15 03 2022

Call for Papers: University of Tübingen & University of Glasgow PhD Summer School

Business Beyond the Brink: Crisis Management, Government Responses and Institutional Memory and Learning in the Modern World.

1-3 August 2022, Tübingen, Germany.

The University of Tübingen’s Collaborative Research Center 923 – “Threatened Orders: Societies under Stress” (Germany) – provides funding for an intensive three-day event aimed at PhD students in business history or economic history working on any topic that overlaps with the theme of the school (for more details, see “Further Notes for Applicants” below). Students will, the pandemic permitting, be hosted in the historic town of Tübingen and will present, debate and discuss their works-in-progress with leading international scholars within a world-class university.

The school aims to provide doctoral students with an overview of relevant research and innovative tools and methodologies in the fields of business and economic history. It is the third event in this series organised jointly by the Seminar für Neuere Geschichte (University of Tübingen) and the Centre for Business History in Scotland (University of Glasgow).

The school will take the form of presentations from students (c.25 minutes) and workshops hosted by established experts in the field. The aims of the school are:

1) to deepen students’ understanding of current themes in historical research (and how this can inform their own work);
2) to enhance research skills through masterclasses on methods for researching and writing history;  
3) to explore the main theoretical underpinnings particular to business and economic history; and
4) to provide a welcoming and convivial environment in which students can discuss their research with leading scholars and peers.

Students will benefit from the experience of academics from Tübingen and beyond. Confirmed speakers include Prof. Dr. Boris Gehlen (Stuttgart), Professor Patrick Fridenson (EHESS), Dr Daniel Menning (Tübingen) and Dr Christopher Miller (Glasgow). We hope to confirm additional speakers in the coming weeks and months.

Funding will cover flights and/or trains (up to an agreed limit, to be reimbursed after the school), accommodation, lunches, and the conference meal for up to fourteen students. There may also be limited space for applicants who wish to self-fund or who have received funding from their own institution.

Those interested in attending the summer school should e-mail the following documents to the organisers, Dr Daniel Menning ( and Dr Christopher Miller (

1) a brief CV (two pages maximum);
2) a summary of their PhD (two pages maximum); and 
3) a title and abstract for their desired presentation topic, which should incorporate one or more major themes of the student’s PhD (one page maximum).

While not required, applicants are strongly encouraged to submit with their materials an example of a work-in-progress (e.g., a draft chapter, article, or working paper), preferably in English, German, or French. Please note, however, that all presentations and discussions will be in English.

The deadline for applications is 20 April 2022.  A maximum of 14 funded applicants will be selected and notified shortly afterwards. 

Further Notes for Applicants:

Overview of Scope and Aims of the School:

(This overview is only a guide. Students working on similar topics to those listed below are encouraged to speak to Daniel Menning and/or Christopher Miller in the first instance.)

With the COVID-19 virus spreading across the globe and many major economic countries shutting down social life and significant parts of the economy, we have recently witnessed an economic contraction which has proceeded at an astonishing pace as well as an equally swift, though rather more varied, rebound. Though it is too early yet to estimate the effects and predict the duration of the economic difficulties (including, for example, current shortages of raw materials and increased inflation) – particularly with the war in the Ukraine compounding such difficulties – , it is clear that many businesses suffered and many others were dislocated and/or remain in trouble. A significant number most likely will not survive in their pre-pandemic form, governmental bailout packages notwithstanding.

While interest in economic crises and their effects on businesses has increased over the past few years, starting with the Global Financial Crisis, the current conditions will likely give a new boost to research and result in a new thoughtfulness and a recalibration of research methods. This summer school therefore aims to better understand the linkages between businesses, government responses, and learning from crises through a combination of training masterclasses and a varied range of papers from PhDs and early career researchers working on the cutting edge of history and cognate disciplines.

Research Background:

Business and economic history has been at the forefront of explaining some of the major changes in economies and societies – starting with the work of Alfred Chandler in the 1960s. (Chandler 1962, 1977). Nevertheless, with regards to the business history of crises and crisis management specifically, the literature is far less well developed. There are three reasons for this neglect. First, the tradition of business history for several decades, until comparatively recently, was to study the history of individual firms, or less frequently sectors. Indeed, business history was once considered an applied branch of economic history for scholars wishing to move beyond macroeconomic trends. The net effect has been that the literature on firms has been dominated by commissioned histories where the historian is paid by the (surviving) company and given use of its archives. While often extremely valuable, these studies can tend towards “rise and fall” narratives.

Second, where business histories have studied crises specifically, commissioned works can potentially have some further methodological problems. Most obviously, many of the firms survived until at least the point the history was commissioned. Thus, it is perhaps a case of selection bias towards success – or at the very least towards the largest and most important companies (Berghoff 2006). Related to this, the nature of commissioned studies has also drawn criticism: namely, that success is often attributed to management rather than luck, while episodes of failure are attributed to external or unpredictable factors outside of management control.

Third, the causes and aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2008 have generated many millions of pages of scholarship and commentary in the last decade, with the effect of prompting historians to draw comparisons with the Wall Street Crash and Great Depression. For instance, Werner Abelshauser (2009) is one of many interested in learning from economic crises explicitly through using the examples of 1931 and 2008. While not every crisis was like 2008 in cause, scale or scope, it is not necessarily a new phenomenon: the 2000 dot-com bubble was compared in much the same way. (Ojala and Uskali 2006). As a result, the stock market crash in 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression have become by far the most studied economic crisis in history, with renewed interest from 2008 (Tooze 2019), while the effect of the more regular, smaller scale, economic crises suffered by businesses before and after 1929 is largely neglected.

The current economic conditions promise to bring new momentum to the study of businesses in times of larger and smaller economic difficulties, and we are therefore inviting PhD students and ECRs (PhD awarded no earlier than 2019) working on these topics in history departments, management schools, or other cognate disciplines to submit proposals for the summer school.

What Business-Historical Research Can Say About the War in Ukraine

12 03 2022

Business-historical research is particularly useful in understanding the impact on companies of rare but highly consequential events, such as the outbreak of wars involving great powers. By business-historical research, I mean small-N, high-detail studies using corporate archives and other primary sources generated by business people. The pioneering historical research on the late Alfred Chandler illustrates these types of research methods. (Business-historical research is thus distinct from, but related to, econometric historical research).  Within the business-historical research community, particularly outside of the United States, understanding the impact of war and more geopolitical conflict on the strategies and structures of multinational firms is a major focus of researchers. How MNE managers responded to the world wars, the Cold War, and the collapse of the European colonies empires, is a subject that has been explored by such leading business historians as Geoffrey Jones, Ben Wubs, Pierre-Yves Donzé, Marcelo Bucheli, Takafumi Kurosawa, Heidi Tworek, Teresa da Silva-Lopes, Simon Mollan, Kevin Tennent, and others including me.

The recent dramatic events in Ukraine (the invasion of a fledgling democracy and EU-candidate member by a state that is controlled by a former KGB colonel and which has the implicit backing of the CCP) has had major implications for multinational firms and for the cluster of trends we call globalization. The sudden severing of ties between Russian and Western firms, the concerns that the conflict could result in a NATO Article 5 situation, and the trillion-dollar question of what this conflict means for ties between Chinese and Western firms are all issues that we are thinking about. A striking feature of this crisis is that Western firms have engaged in extensive self-sanctioning of Russia: rather than waiting to see whether Western governments will force them to stop trading with and in Russia, Western firms have announced they will cease to do business there. The closure of all McDonald’s restaurants in Russia is representative of this development.  My impression is that these companies have dropped Russia because of a mixture of consumer pressure and fear of a boycott in their core Western markets, the realisation that their Russian subsidiaries are probably going to become unprofitable anyway, and the internal moral compass of the executives. A disproportionate number of corporate managers are ex-military, particularly in US firms that recruit from the Harvard MBA programme, so a certain amount of corporate patriotism may be at work.

 In this blog post, I would like to draw on my business-historical research and the research other business historians in thinking about what we can expect.

My first main observation is that in we shouldn’t model the individuals who direct multinational firms in times of geopolitical crisis (the top management teams) as concerned exclusively with profit-maximization or trying to preserve as much value as possible for the shareholders. Nor should we model these individuals as self-maximizing economic actors (Econ 101 humans) whose behaviour in this crisis can be predicted just by referring to their pecuniary interests. MNCs CEOs and board members are far more complex than that. I recently published a co-authored paper that a micro-historical study of the individual who led the bank now known as HSBC during the First World War. Immediately prior to this war, this bank had extensive ties to German firms (the German citizens on its board of directors resigned in August 1914). Very soon after the war began, the British government banned most but not all forms of trading with German citizens. During the war, the chief executive of this firm incurred great personal risks in the course of speaking up on behalf of German firms and liberal-internationalist principles, doing so as a time when other British businessmen (albeit those with less social capital) were being literally imprisoned for the crime of trading with the enemy. I concluded that the bold actions of this MNE manager, which made him unpopular, were not motivated by personal self-interest or even the economic interests of his principals (the shareholders of the firm) but were instead a dictated by his own moral code. We know from the work of other business-historians that businessmen of a more militarist/nationalist cast of mind have behaved in wartime in a fashion that is totally at odds with what the Econ 101 model of human nature would predict. The lesson here is that we can’t assume that everything a CEO or a MNCs does in this crisis is somehow designed to promote the long-term self-interest of the CEO or of the firm.

Second, business-historical research can help us to think about the likely impact of this crisis, and of major war more generally, on the ongoing debates about the relative merits of the shareholder primacy and the stakeholder philosophy that says that corporate board members should not be conceptualized as having a primary duty to maximize profits for shareholders. As I have suggested in this paper, major wars in which firms need to behave patriotically in supporting the war effort have the net effect of promoting the stakeholder philosophy. The doctrine of shareholder primacy tends to do well in times of peace among major economies (e.g. Victorian England, late 19th century America, the US and the UK after the alleged End of History in 1990).

Third, we should not view businesspeople as simply responding to changes in the geopolitical environment that are produced by politicians. Businesspeople can, in a subtle but important way, influence the incidence and severity of warfare in a way that is totally invisible to the Realist perspective on geopolitics that many academics unthinkingly default to using in crises such as this. Entrepreneurs can end and prevent wars through backdoor diplomacy and other means. (The literature on Business and Peace shows that). In a paper in the journal Enterprise and Society, I and Laurence Mussio explored how Canadian entrepreneurs promoted peace between the British Empire and the United States in the 1860s, a time when those two powers were drifting towards war. Last month, as the Ukraine crisis was escalating, I recorded a podcast with a Canadian think-tank in which I talked about that paper and what it means for the present. The Jerusalem Post recently reported that the oligarch Roman Abramovich was acting as a go-between in peace talks between Ukraine and Russia. This report made me think of my earlier research on Sir John Rose.  I concede that there is a big difference between these two episodes, as it is probably easier for a businessman to patch up relations between two liberal countries (Britain and the United States) than between the West and an autocracy.

Fourth, a striking feature of this crisis is the swiftness with which Western firms, particularly consumer-facing ones like McDonald’s, have pulled out of Russia. There is a marked contrast here with the great reluctance to divest from South Africa that Western firms displayed when anti-apartheid activists pressed them to do so. (Please look at this excellent historical paper on Shell in JIBS on this subject).   I think three factors explain this difference. First, stakeholders in the West thought that apartheid was terrible but they never believed that South Africa posed an existential threat to their countries in same way that Russia does. Second, disgust with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the associated belief that it is immoral to do business with Putin’s Russia is now evenly distributed across the political spectrum, at least in the UK and the US, whereas in the 1980s support for boycotts of South Africa was primarily found on the left of the political spectrum.

 Third, and I hate to say it, race is probably a factor here: sympathy for Ukrainians is probably intensified by the fact they fall into the socially-constructed category of “white”. This is not to say that they are not 100% deserving of our support, but there is a discrepancy in how Western countries have treated the victims of Russian aggression in Ukraine and the victims of Russian aggression from Syria. (My personal view is we should be more generous in how we treat all refugees, Ukrainian and non-white).  The EU, which is in some subtle ways a systemically racist organization, has displayed a massive double-standard as just a few months ago it supported the efforts of Poland to keep a handful of Middle Eastern refugees from crossing the Belarus-Ukraine border. It is now being far more generous to the Ukrainians, which is great except for the double standard. Sadly, the UK government, which has recently introduced a new colour-blind immigration system and has a strikingly non-racist policy aimed at helping BNO refugees fleeing Communist tyranny in Hong Kong, appears to be moving towards a similar double-standard policy. I’m disappointed that a Cabinet that includes so many non-whites has followed the EU in this way.  Even more strikingly, American journalists employed by previously “woke” companies have expressed essentially racist ideas when discussing the Ukraine crisis on air (I’ve shared two video clips from Novara Media, a pro-Corbyn media source I don’t normally agree with, below). The sad fact of the matter is that race and a certain amount of white privilege influences the cultural context in which MNC managers make decisions about whether to do business with odious regimes. The same firms that have boycotted Russia continue do to business in other Eurasian autocracies, even those that are engaged in genocidal policies towards (non-white and non-Christian) populations. Public opinion in the West lets them get away with doing so, in part because people in Western countries are more upset about human rights abuses where the victims are within the imagined community of the white race.  In the past, I have published papers that deal with cultural and intellectual legacies of colonialism for multinational firms (see here). The historical periods covered in those two papers end around 1980, which I then regarded as the effective end of the era in which ideas of racial superiority and inferiority ceased to be relevant to understanding how multinational firms operate. I may need to revise that view.

Conference on Historical Analysis and Research in Marketing (CHARM)

11 03 2022

Esse quam videri: Marketing history for real

21st Biennial

Conference on Historical Analysis and Research in Marketing (CHARM)

1 to 4 June 2023, Duke University, Durham, NC

Submission Deadline: 26 November 2022

Direct your submission to the Program Chair:

We invite business, marketing, social science, and humanities scholars from all backgrounds to join us at Duke University for a friendly, collegial, and interdisciplinary research conference focused on the history of marketing and advertising. We call on scholars from around the globe to explore the theme of this year’s conference, based on the motto of North Carolina, esse quam videri, to be rather than to seem. The motto is drawn from Marcus Tullius Cicero’s essay, How to Be a Friend (De Amicitia), which is very appropriate, because this is the ethos of CHARM.

Both individual papers and panels on all aspects of marketing history, historic marketing, and the history of marketing thought in all geographic areas and all historical time frames are welcome. In accord with the Conference theme, we welcome papers that both examine the history of marketing as a discipline and also critically draw on marketing as a source in reconstructing the past. Topics may include but are not exclusively restricted to the following:

Marketing pioneersHistories of the development and evolution of the marketing disciplineVarieties of marketing cultures and historiesWriting the past: constructing histories in/for marketingExploring the historical role of relationships and networks in marketing;Historical Marketing in the projection of national and regional identitiesHistory and Marketing research
Marketing history “from below” – how consumers and citizens respond to and interact with firms and brands
Advertising history
Distribution and packaging history
Sector case studies with historical focus, for example beauty and fashion marketing, transportation, leisure, etc.Histories of branding and brand development

We also encourage historical submissions that discuss methodological, pedagogical and historiographical questions in marketing.

Address any proposals for special sessions or panels directly to the Program Chair for more information.

Submission Information:

Submit a full paper or extended abstract. All paper submissions (full and extended abstracts) will be double-blind reviewed and a proceedings volume will be published. Full papers (between 8,000 and 12,000 words, inclusive of references and all other items) or extended abstracts (between 1,200 – 1,500 words) may be submitted. Authors may choose to publish either full papers or extended abstracts in the proceedings. To provide reviewers with sufficient information, extended abstracts should include the research purpose, source material or data, and sample references. Please note: submitting a full paper to the proceedings volume does not preclude a submission of your paper to a journal. The copyright of a paper published in the CHARM proceedings remains with its authors, and over the years many CHARM conference papers have made their way into marketing, historical, sociological and other journals.

All submissions, full papers and extended abstracts, must be in double-spaced Microsoft Word format. All must contain a cover page that includes the following:

  1. Manuscript title.
  2. Author(s) name and title.
  3. ORCID identifier, where you have one.
  4. Contact information, including email address.
  5. Corresponding author (for co-authored works).
  6. The names of associated authors where a panel is proposed.
  7. Author(s) status (student, faculty or independent scholar).
  8. Paper vs. abstract designation
  9. One or two recommended reviewers.

All cover pages should also include the following statement: “In the event this submission is accepted for presentation and publication in the CHARM Proceedings, I (or a co-author) intend to present our work at CHARM 2023.” Please use the “Properties” function in Word to remove author information from the document file.

Full papers are eligible to be considered for either the Stanley C. Hollander Best Paper Award (best overall paper) or the David D. Monieson Best Student Paper Award (best paper by a graduate student). The David D. Monieson Award eligibility requires that the paper be authored solely by a graduate student(s) and that student authorship be noted on the cover page upon submission.

Program ChairProceedings EditorArrangements ChairDoctoral Workshop Chair
Prof. Leighann C. Neilson Associate Professor , Marketing, Sprott School of Business Carleton University Ottawa, ON CANADA  Prof. Joanne McNeish Associate Professor, Marketing, Ted Rogers School of Business Management, Ryerson University, Toronto, ON CANADA   jmcneish@ryerson.caJacqueline Reid     Wachholz Director, Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising &     Marketing History, Duke University, Durham, NC USA   j.reid@duke.eduDr. Richard A. Hawkins Reader in History, Department of History, Politics & War Studies, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton UK

Possible Venue to Present Business-Historical Research on Politics in International Business

2 03 2022

I’m always scoping out venues where business historians can present research findings to other groups of management academics. Since many business historians do research on how multinational firms deal with political risk, this recently-announced workshop may of interest. I don’t know if the organisation of this workshop, which will take place in a city that was once under partial Russian occupation (Vienna) is at all connected to recent events in Ukraine.

Let’s talk politics:
Politics in International Business

EIBA Workshop (EIBA-W)
Let’s talk politics:
Politics in International Business
WU Vienna, Austria | June 9-10, 2022
Call for Papers & Participants
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: April 29, 2022 (23:59 CEST)
{NOTE: Submitting a paper is not a participation requirement…}

Location: WU Vienna
Dates: June 9-10, 2022
EIBA-W Organizer: Vera Kunczer, WU Vienna (
EIBA Sponsor: Jonas Puck, WU Vienna
NOTE: This EIBA Workshop (EIBA-W) is expected to be held as an on-campus, in-person event – with options to join online if travel restrictions due to the current Covid-19 pandemic or other factors so require.

Aim of the EIBA-W on Politics in IB
The aim of this EIBA-W is to bring together junior and senior scholars interested in the overlap of International Business and Politics. We invite paper proposals as well as working paper submissions that will receive useful feedback in an interactive discussion format. Participants without submissions are also very welcome. All will benefit from networking opportunities, senior faculty talks, and expert roundtables.

Topics addressed at the EIBA-W
After decades of economic integration and increasing globalization, firms now face an environment that is characterized by protectionist measures and nationalist movements. Developments and events such as the rise of right-wing parties, the Brexit, trade wars, and increasing nationalism characterize today’s political landscape and entail particularly harmful interventions for firms. Such political changes leave firms in uncertain and unstable environments that lead to more complexities for their international operations. These developments also create instabilities in the political environment due to a transformation from a globally integrated world to a more protectionist society that is marked by anti-foreignism, leading to unpredictable future developments, decreasing international exchange, and essentially complicate international operations. This situation presents a new environment where specifically internationally operating firms must find their way.

The political environment is part of the institutional structures that are besides firm and industry characteristics a shaping aspect for firms’ international strategic behaviour (Peng et al., 2009). One of the objectives of institutions is the provision of an order that regulates the external environment and hence governs firms’ internationalization decisions (Ahuja et al., 2018; Kostova et al., 2019). We still lack knowledge about the consequences of this new political paradigm for firms’ international business operations. Given the importance of the political environment for firms’ international strategies (e.g., Henisz, 2000; Kobrin, 1979), an investigation of those changed conditions provides great relevance for International Business studies.
This EIBA-W seeks to address research questions and relevant topics that investigate the interconnection between International Business and the political environment. The Workshop aims at providing straightforward advice from top researchers on how to conduct research in this field as well as give rewarding insights into relevant future research directions. Furthermore, senior faculty will provide constructive feedback on individual papers.
EIBA-W papers could address the following questions (among others):
• How do political shocks or turbulences influence firms’ internationalization decisions (e.g., internationalization timing, location choice, entry mode decisions) and MNE operations (e.g., global value chain configurations, HQ-subsidiary relations)?
• How can firms successfully manage politically uncertain and turbulent host countries? How do firms respond through e.g., corporate political activities?
• What are the consequences of nationalist and anti-globalization sentiments for firms’ international collaborations?
• What is the role of corporate political activities in influencing the political environment in host countries?

Preliminary program
June 9, 2022
18:30 Welcome reception

June 10, 2022
09:00-09:30 Morning coffee with breakfast
09:30-10:30 Senior faculty panel: “Research at the interface of Politics and International Business”
10:30-11:00 Coffee break
11:00-12:30 Expert roundtables:
• Quantitative methods in IB research
• Qualitative methods in IB research
• Theory building in politics and IB research
12:30-14:00 Lunch
14:00-15:30 Interactive paper roundtables:
• Discussing submitted papers in small groups to gain feedback from senior faculty
Idea development roundtables:
• Discussing and developing research ideas in an interactive manner in small groups with senior faculty
15:30-16:00 Coffee break
16:00-17:00 Senior faculty panel: “The future of research on Politics in IB”
19:00 Dinner

Submission & application details
To participate in this EIBA-W, a paper submission is not mandatory. With or without a submitted paper, the benefits of participation include senior faculty talks, expert roundtables, and social events.
Interested participants who wish to submit their work and receive feedback at the EIBA-W are invited to submit two types of paper (with no preference given to either type):
• Paper proposals
Paper proposals should not exceed seven (7) pages and a total of 4,000 words. Five (5) pages should be used for the body of the proposal, and up to two (2) pages may be used for references, diagrams, charts, tables, etc. The 4,000-word limit also includes all text from references, diagrams, figures, tables, etc.

• Full working papers
Interested participants can (also) submit papers that are already at a more developed stage. Full working papers must not exceed 10,000 words, including all references and appendices. A short abstract not exceeding 200 words should be included at the beginning. Use 12pt Times New Roman font and double spacing. All tables, figures, appendices, etc. should be placed at the end of the document, after the references.
Submissions for the EIBA-W on Politics in IB should be sent via e-mail by April 29, 2022 (23:59 CEST) to Vera Kunczer ( in PDF format. Author information and title should appear on the first page of each submission. For any formatting questions not already indicated above, refer to the JIBS style guide ( Interested participants may make a maximum of two submissions to this EIBA-W.

Registration for participating in the EIBA-W is mandatory. The registration deadline is May 13, 2022. To register for the EIBA-W on Politics in IB, please send an e-mail to Vera Kunczer (

Participation fees
For current EIBA members (2022), the participation fee is €40 EUR (€20 for PhD students).
The fee for non-EIBA-members is €120 EUR (€80 for PhD students) – which includes EIBA membership for the remainder of the calendar year (2022) and entitles EIBA-W participants to receive all the existing EIBA membership benefits (e.g., being part of a global network, online access to International Business Review (IBR), Progress in International Business Research (PIBR) book series, etc.). More information on EIBA membership and its benefits is available on the EIBA website (
EIBA-W participation fees include: the welcome reception (June 9th); meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and non-alcoholic beverages; coffee break refreshments (June 10th). Participants must cover and organize their travel and accommodation on their own. EIBA-W organizers would be pleased to help with finding and booking accommodation and transfers.

Senior faculty (to be confirmed and extended)
• Srividya Jandhyala (ESSEC Business School)
• Thomas Lindner (University of Innsbruck)
• Alexander Mohr (WU Vienna)
• Jakob Müllner (WU Vienna)
• Emmanuella Plakoyiannaki (University of Vienna)
• Jonas Puck (WU Vienna)

Contact & further information
Vera Kunczer
Assistant Professor
Institute for International Business, WU Vienna
Welthandelsplatz 1, 1020 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 31336 4366
For references and to share this announcement with others, please download the complete Call for Papers.

E-mail: | Website:
► EIBA on social media:

Please check & update your personal profile in the online EIASM / EIBA contact database:
If you do not wish to receive any association e-mailings, click on unsubscribe for an online confirmation – but be aware you could miss important news & info on events, submissions, registrations, elections, journals, jobs, etc.
NOTE: You may update your e-mail address, password & mail preferences via your personal profile at any time.

A Modest Proposal

12 01 2022

In the past, my fellow business historians have discussed the pros and cons of universities offering degrees and/or individual courses with “Business History” in the name. (The alternative to offering such courses and modules is to incorporate business history into other courses and modules). Recent changes in the education market and technology have created the opportunity for a new way of teaching business history.

Let me explain what I mean. Microcredentials, which are very short online courses that give you a badge you can post on LinkedIn, are increasingly important in higher education, especially in the Asian markets. The ILO itself has observed the growing importance of microcredentials. Doing a very short course on Python or the basics of accounting or whatever sends great signals to employers (for one thing, it shows that you can learn independently). Most of us are familiar with the short certificate courses offered by universities and firms such as Microsoft and Bloomberg. Software packages such as Badgr makes it easier to deliver microcredentials, thus driving down barriers to entry. We might consider ways of creating business-history microcourses that professionals with an interest in business history could do. If delivered by senior scholars and a reputable non-profit organization, they could boost the profile/legitimacy of business history. I also see zero risk of such credentials stealing student demand away from traditional ways of teaching business history.

If delivered by senior scholars and a reputable non-profit organization, they could boost the profile/legitimacy of business history. More importantly, those of us who are university teachers could incorporate them into our classes by making them assignments to our students. Some academics already do something, similar for instance the replaced a mid-term exam with the requirement that the students complete MS Office certificate by the end of the semester. A similar online certificate on the basics of business history might increase the total volume of business history being taught worldwide and would make it easier for us to teach business history at a more advanced level. Such micro credential courses might be closely associated with existing online resources, such as the excellent Business History initiative of the Gies College of Business, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

I just thought I would throw this idea out there.

Opportunities to Do Generously Funded PhDs in Business History

6 01 2022

Historical Tensions between International Business and National Taxation: A Challenge for
Europe Today

Annual funding amount: 31,034 Euros pa pro rata to cover fees/stipend. Archival and project travel funds available

A team of business historians from the University of Bayreuth (Germany), Erasmus
University (Rotterdam), Charles University (Prague), and Coventry University (UK), are being
funded by the VolkswagenStiftung for a project that aims to analyse the historical dynamic
of the conflict of interest in relation to taxation between nation states and multi-national
enterprise (MNE). The historical cases examined in the project aim to reveal the complexity
of multi-layered interaction between states and MNE, and the long historical pathdependence of MNE and their global network of specialists.

Coventry University and Erasmus University are now inviting applications from suitablyqualified graduates for fully-funded PhD studentships – one to be held at each university – to
join the team in May 2022 and start work on the project. The successful candidates will
receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional
skills. In addition, the studentships include funding and support for participation, together
with the project’s other PhD students, in various European PhD education programmes,
such as summer schools and courses.

The Coventry University PhD project comprises a case study of BP in the course of the
twentieth century. Against a background of international ideological ruptures (First World
War, 1930s Great Depression, Second World War, de-colonisation, the coming of the Iron
Curtain and fall of the Berlin Wall), the CU project will also focus on the nationalisation
policies of the postwar Labour government, and the progressive privatization of BP from
1979 under Thatcher.

For further details please contact Professor Neil Forbes

The Erasmus University PhD project comprises a case study of the Anglo-Dutch Unilever
since the merger in 1930. Against a background of major international ruptures (1930s
Great Depression, Second World War, de-colonisation, the coming of the Iron Curtain and
fall of the Berlin Wall) this project will focus on Unilever’s connections to other
multinational companies in the UK and the Netherlands and particularly its relations with
the Dutch and British governments. Command of the Dutch and English languages is a

For further details please contact Professor Ben Wubs

Please note that the annual salary implied by this annual funding fee is considerably higher than what one would normally get as an ESRC funded PhD student at a UK university.

Application deadline is 24 January 2022. Full details available here.

The History of Business and Philanthropy

5 01 2022

Wednesday January 26th, 2021

Correct time: 5:00 pm EST 10:00pm GMT

It is generally understood that the prime function of any business enterprise is to generate profits; its central responsibility is to shareholders. The idea that business owners should also seek to perform social tasks is regarded as an ancillary activity. Historical evidence suggests that not all business leaders or organizations have been content simply to perform a commercial role in society. Numerous industrialists and entrepreneurs throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century made significant contributions to their local communities. The early efforts of socially responsible business leaders and companies are well documented. The character of corporate philanthropy has continued to evolve since the 19th Century along with changes in industry, society and the economy. From public service-minded business owners giving to church charities and pet projects, corporate philanthropy today takes on many forms, even as a broadly encompassing corporate social responsibility strategy. This panel will present and discuss the historical, contemporary, and future role of business and business leaders in the area of philanthropy.


Patricia Hardy is the CEO of The Tunnelwood Group, a strategic planning and consulting firm located in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Patricia is the former Director of Development at The University of Winnipeg and served as National Campaign Director of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. She is the author of A History of Philanthropy in Canada.

Steven Ayer is the President of Common Good Strategies. Steve has deep experience in strategy and insights. He has worked in analytics, research, and marketing and sales roles in the charitable sector. He also has experience as a senior researcher for Imagine Canada where he has authored numerous publications on social impact and revenue strategies for nonprofits. Most recently he led the research and writing of Toronto’s Vital Signs report for the Toronto Foundation.

Professor Charles Harvey is Professor of Business History and Management and Director of the Centre for Research on Entrepreneurship, Wealth and Philanthropy at the Newcastle University Business School.  His current research interests include entrepreneurship and philanthropy, business elites, and historical organization studies.  He has published extensively on these topics.

Attendees will need to register to attend. All registered participants will be given Zoom login information on January 25th.  

Call for applications BHC Doctoral Colloquium in Business History 2022 Mexico City

17 09 2021

Call for applications Dissertation Colloquium 2022 Mexico City [Venue is still undecided]

The BHC Doctoral Colloquium in Business History will be held on April 6th and 7th, 2022. We are strongly hoping to meet in Mexico, but because of the pandemic, it remains possible that this prestigious workshop for Ph.D. students could be held remotely via Zoom. Therefore, until the last moment, and depending on variants and cases in Mexico, we will keep the possibility of moving to a full online DC by February 2022 (TBC). We will also schedule a few professional development sessions at different times, which will be held remotely.

Typically limited to ten students, the colloquium is open to doctoral candidates pursuing dissertation research within the broad field of business history from any relevant discipline (e.g., from economic sociology, political science, cultural anthropology, or management, as well as history). Most participants are in year 3 or 4 or their degree program. However, in some instances, applicants at a later stage make a compelling case that their thesis research had evolved in ways that led them to see the advantages of an intensive engagement with business history.

We welcome proposals from students working within any thematic area of business history. See link for past examples and past participants.

Participants work intensively with a distinguished group of BHC-affiliated scholars (including the incoming BHC president), discussing dissertation proposals, relevant literatures and research strategies, and career trajectories.

Applications are due by Friday, December 10, 2021, via email to Carol Lockman ( Questions about the colloquium should be sent to its director, Prof. Eric Godelier ( Applicants will receive notification of the selection committee’s decisions by Monday, January 17, 2022. If they travel to Mexico, all participants will receive a stipend that partially defrays travel costs to the annual meeting.

Colloquium participants have a choice of pre-circulating one of the following:

  • a 15-page dissertation prospectus or updated overview of the dissertation research plan; or
  • a draft dissertation chapter, along with a one-page dissertation outline/description. 

Participants should choose the option that they feel will most assist them at this stage in their research and writing. We will need either your prospectus/overview or your chapter draft and outline by April 1. Those will then be posted on a Colloquium webpage on the BHC website and shared with all participants to read them in advance.

The Colloquium director is Eric Godelier, Professor of Business History, Ecole Polytechnique (France). Interested students may direct inquiries to him at

Quick Takes About The World Congress of Business History

8 09 2021

Observations About the Programme of the World Congress of Business History

Even though it is a virtual conference and won’t be taking place in the lovely city of Nagoya, I’m looking forward to attending the WCBH in a few days time. I’m not presenting any papers there, but several of my co-authors will be presenting and I plan to show for their sessions, of course, and as many of the other sessions my time zone and other commitments permit.

I’m going to share some observations about patterns I’ve observed in the programme.

First, I think that the decision to make Deirdre McCloskey a keynote speaker was an inspired choice. Professor McCloskey is a distinguished historical researcher whose outputs span a wide range of research methodologies, qualitative and quantitative. She is the author of two dozen books and four hundred or so articles on subjects ranging from statistical theory to literary criticism, is a retired professor of economics, and, by courtesy, of History, English, and communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Educated in economics and economic history at Harvard, she was a tenured member of the famous Chicago School of economics, 1968-1980, when it was inventing among other subjects, modern financial economics and quantitative economic history. Her early writings were on British economic history, opposed to the studies of entrepreneurship emanating from the Harvard School of Business. But after many decades she has come to understand the human creativity that made for modern economic growth, and therefore to criticize the machinery she once thought explained it. Holder of eleven honorary degrees and numerous book prizes, she taught for many years in France and Greece at the EDAMBA summer school on management theory and practice.

In her recent work, McCloskey has advanced a theory of economic-historical causation that could, in my view, provide the basis of the new master narrative or framework that the discipline of business history needs now that the Chandlerian framework that formerly gave coherence to the field of business history but which has ceased to be used by most business historians (see here and here) and business-history adjacent strategy scholars, international business academics, and economists. McCloskey’s theory of economic history is designed to answer the ultra-important question of why did the industrial capitalism and modern economic growth emerge when and where it did (north-western Europe a few centuries ago) rather than elsewhere or at another time. Various answers to this question have emerged: economists who are fond of the rational-actor model stressed the causal importance of the development of political institutions that protected entrepreneurs’ property rights, while Joel Mokyr and his friends point our attention to the sharing of practical knowledge that was part of the Enlightened economy. Still others focus on the forces that made England a relatively high-wage, cheap energy economy. McCloskey’s answer in Bourgeois Dignity posits for a thriving capitalist economy to emerge in  country, its culture needs to give respect to commerce and to business people. For most of human history, trade and commerce were denigrated as dirty. Many traditional cultures were decidedly anti-business (e.g. in the status system of Tokugawa Japan, merchants ranked below the samurai and the peasants and just above the untouchables). McCloskey argues that when the culture of a society changes so that it is more sympathetic to business people, that’s when you start to see the emergence of a thriving capitalist economy.

Let me be clear: McCloskey isn’t arguing that we need a culture in which everything every business person does to make a profit is respected and lauded (she acknowledges that businessmen sometimes do crappy things). However, her theory of historical causation is that if we want prosperity, we need a culture that is broadly respectful towards businesspeople.  It seems to me that this theory of historical causation, which clearly has implications for present-day issues such as the depiction of business people in popular culture, could be a good one for the business history community to adopt as a unifying framework. I think that it ticks all of the right boxes, as it is a theory that can be applied empirically to a range of different countries and temporal periods (unlike the Chandlerian paradigm, which only really helps us to make sense of post-1850 business history) and can be applied in qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method research.  

My second main observation about the programme of the WCBH is that is, unsurprisingly, delightfully international. I don’t just mean that the programme is international in the sense that there are presenters from many countries there. That’s true of the Academy of Management, where more than half of the presenters are academics with non-US institutional affiliations. What I mean is that the paper topics are themselves very international and display an awareness of national context in understanding case studies. I find that at the Academy of Management one ends up listening to many papers that happen to be by non-American academics but which are either based on US data or which are based on data from another country but in which national context is only incidentally relevant to the authors’ main point.

My third observation is that I am very pleased that there are so many Chinese business historians who are part of the conference. I see business historians with the following institutional affiliations: School of Government, Peking University; Xiamen University; Tianjin University; Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences). I know that engagement with the now large community of Chinese business historians is controversial with some business historians in the Western democracies, particularly those who live in the UK, a country that is fully signed up to New Cold War. Some business historians argue that we shouldn’t really interact with Chinese business historians, let alone attend business history conferences in mainland China, on moral grounds related to China’s  domestic policies. They effectively want us to treat business historians in the PRC in the same way academics in apartheid South Africa were treated in the 1980s. Others have argued that while engaging with business historians in mainland China is ethically permissible, it’s basically  a waste of time since a scholar working in the confines of “social science with Chinese characteristics” is unlikely to produce research with much value to us. Essentially, these people are saying that a business historian who attends a Chinese business history conference is going to get as little from attending as a Western geneticist who attended a biology conference in the Soviet Union during the dark days of Lysenko-ism. I profoundly disagree with both arguments. I see lots of excellent work being done by Chinese business historians, including scholars who work in PRC universities. Moreover, when one attends any social-scientific conference, one is bound to encounter a certain amount of highly dubious, ideologically-driven research (think of the low-quality Anglo-American research highlighted by the Grievance Studies Hoax) that wastes your time. During the Trump Presidency, otherwise great paper presentations by US academics would often by marred by a ritualistic denunciation of Trump that wasted a minute or two at the start. My attitude to this ritual was “Listen, nobody here likes Trump but I didn’t fly here to listen to you do a third-rate copy of Rachel Maddow. Let’s hear about your research.” My point is that a certain amount of time-wastage due to ideology is just par for the course when one attends any academic conference, regardless of where the social scientists in question are from.  

Kingston on Risk and the Insurance Business in History

6 08 2021

I’m reposting here a recent (well May 2021) EH.Net review of a new edited collection about the business history of insurances. It is great to see so much work being done in this area and that much of this work is informed by different types of theory, albeit theories very different from the sort of paradigms I normally work within.

Jerònia Pons and Robin Pearson, editors, Risk and the Insurance Business in History. Madrid: Fundación Mapfre, 2020. 290 pp. ISBN: 978-84-9844-753-8.

Reviewed for EH.Net by Chris Kingston, Department of Economics, Amherst College.

The history of insurance, as many authors have noted, has been relatively neglected by historians, including economic historians; but in recent years, with a steady growth of interest from scholars across a range of disciplines, the field has been expanding in geographic, historical and methodological scope.

In June 2019, two leading pioneers in the field, Jerònia Pons (University of Seville) and Robin Pearson (University of Hull) organized an international conference on “Risk and the Insurance Business in History” at the University of Seville. The conference brought together scholars of insurance and risk from a wide variety of academic and professional perspectives, with the explicit goal of creating a forum to encourage interdisciplinary dialogue. For insurance scholars, as this reviewer can attest, it was a rare and valuable opportunity to network, and a remarkably fertile, stimulating and enjoyable gathering. Hats off.

This collection of nine papers presented at the conference, edited by Pons and Pearson, is published with the support of the Mapfre Foundation, which also supported the conference itself. In a valuable and wide-ranging introduction, the editors weave together some of the disparate strands of the fragmented literatures on risk and insurance. Their survey takes in cultural theorists’ studies of how perceptions of risk, liability, and insurance vary across cultures; behavioral economists’ studies of the psychological anomalies that arise in decision-making under uncertainty; and sociologists and legal scholars’ approach to the insurance industry as a source of a kind of governance over risk-taking behavior among the insured. They also emphasize the omnipresent role of “the state” in multiple roles: as a provider of various kinds of insurance, as a source of risk through warfare, and as a fount of regulation that has the potential to constrain or encourage the development of insurance markets, organizations, and practices. The overarching point is to underscore the editors’ motivation for organizing the Seville conference: the diversity of approaches to the study of risk and insurance in history, and their belief in the potential for beneficial collaboration and cross-pollination.

While the quality of the contributions varies, and some might have benefited from more intensive editing, there are several very valuable papers in this collection that stretch the boundaries of the discipline and deserve to be widely read by those interested in insurance history and related fields.

Timothy Alborn tells the fascinating tale of how nineteenth-century British life insurers wrestled with the question of how to insure the lives of missionaries, soldiers and Victorian adventurers as they ventured to remote and frequently pestilential corners of the world and the Empire — areas about which the companies had only very scattered and incomplete information. These companies also made hesitant and frequently racially prejudiced forays into the business of insuring non-white colonial subjects of the Empire, even as it gradually became clear that the “civilized” locals often experienced better health and lower mortality in their native climes than did their European expatriate masters. In contrast, for the late nineteenth century American insurers whose efforts to expand into Latin America are adroitly described by Sharon Ann Murphy, the whole point was to insure the locals. Their efforts were however hampered by agency problems, ultimately collapsing as they abandoned the field to emergent domestic firms in the face of restrictive legislation, political uncertainty, and scandal.

Leonardo Caruana de las Cagigas and André Straus survey the legal development and the increasing role of state regulation of the insurance industry in France and Spain from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century, as new forms of insurance and organizational innovations emerged. Development in Spain generally lagged behind France, enabling Spanish companies and regulators to take advantage of the lessons learned elsewhere, but divergent political histories ensured that paths of development remained distinct. Christofer Stadlin contrasts the development of employer accident and liability insurance as it was shaped by the regulatory environments in Germany and France in the late nineteenth century up until World War I, as seen through the eyes of the Zurich Insurance Company which was active in both markets.

José García-Ruiz presents a company history of the “bancassurance” relationship between the Spanish Banesto bank and Luyefe, Spain’s leading insurance company for much of the twentieth century, as the closely connected firms navigated a turbulent political landscape and ventured into new areas of business. Mikael Lönnborg, Peter Hedberg and Lars Karlsson describe how the Swedish insurance law of 1948 deliberately favored larger firms under the belief that the industry would become more efficient through economies of scale. Yet the resulting increase in concentration in the Swedish insurance industry failed to yield the hoped-for improvements in consumer welfare.

Other chapters consider the South African regulatory response to the 2008 global financial crisis (Greitjie Verhoef); the evolution of the legal and regulatory framework underpinning the development of fire insurance in nineteenth-century Canada, influenced by both French, British and American precedents (David Gilles and Sébastien Lanctôt); and how the valuation of American insurance companies’ assets was fudged, with the approval of the authorities, to enable them to satisfy solvency requirements during the financial crisis of the early 1930s (Luca Froelicher).

With such a wide breadth in focus, scope, and methodology, it is debatable whether this collection amounts to more than the sum of its parts. Pearson and Pons, seeking for a unifying theme in their introductory essay, draw attention to the congruence in time periods (most contributions deal with the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries) and to the influence of state regulation on decision-making by insurance companies; and certainly “the state,” in one way or another, looms large in all of these pieces, as it must in any study of modern insurance. The real significance of the volume is as a milestone for a field of study that is progressing vigorously, and that holds the promise of important and potentially fruitful interdisciplinary research questions that have barely begun to be explored. In this regard at least, the vision of the conference organizers, the editors of this volume, is fully vindicated.

Chris Kingston is the Richard S. Volpert ’56 Professor of Economics at Amherst College. He has published several papers on the history of marine insurance in eighteenth-century Britain and America and is working on a book provisionally entitled In Peril on the Sea: Institutional Change in Marine Insurance, 1720-1844.

Copyright (c) 2021 by EH.Net. All rights reserved. This work may be copied for non-profit educational uses if proper credit is given to the author and the list. For other permission, please contact the EH.Net Administrator ( Published by EH.Net (May 2021). All EH.Net reviews are archived at