CfP: Capitalism and Informality

16 07 2022

This workshop looks interesting. If you I attend, I won’t be wearing a suit and tie.

Organizational History Network

Submission deadline: 15 September 2022

Conference dates: 14–15 April 2023

The Menard Family George Washington Forum (GWF), which has its home at Ohio University, invites paper proposals for a conference and subsequent special journal issue on the capitalism and informality. The conference will be held at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, on 14 and 15 April 2022. Plenary lectures will be delivered by Kellee Tsai (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology), Friederike Welter (Institut für Mittelstandsforschung (IfM) Bonn), and Justin Webb (University of North Carolina at Charlotte).

More than a half-century of developmental discourse has portrayed informality as a signal of economic “backwardness”. From the writings of Max Weber to those of Clifford Geertz, Keith Hart, and Alfred Chandler, social scientific theories have suggested that as economies modernize, hierarchical and rationalized forms of economic organization will displace the “unorganized, unincorporated enterprises” and anomic agents of the informal economy. However…

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Postdoctoral Research Fellow Opportunity, Brunel Business School

4 07 2022

I’m sharing some information about a job opportunity for newly minted PhDs in history and allied fields. Deadline is 17/07/2022 and the work would start in September. The job would involve working under Dr Michael Heller on an ESRC funded project that is described here. I know Michael and can attest that he is a very dynamic and entrepreneurial scholar with strong connections to a range of organisations in different parts of the economy. The job advert explicitly states that the university will not sponsor a visa so that someone who doesn’t already have the right to work in the UK could take up this job. ]

 Full Time, Fixed term – (39 Months)                                                                                         

Salary (R1 Grade): £34,304 to £40,927 per annum plus £2,166 per annum London Weighting

We are looking for a postdoctoral researcher to work on the Economic and Social Research Council (UKRI) funded project, ‘An Institutional History of Internal Communication in the UK’. The research will span the period 1880 to the present. It will involve research in a diverse range of archives that include the National Archive, the British Library, business archives such as those of Unilever and Boots, and the archives of professional associations such as the Institute of Internal Communication and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Research will take place in the London Area and occasionally further afield in the UK. It will also include working alongside our nine project partners from business and professional associations, and the British Library.

You will have a PhD in history, and/or a background in archival research. We accept candidates from all areas and periods of history, but are particularly interested in those with a background in business history or modern social and economic history. Candidates are also expected to be conversant in digital and social media as the successful applicant will be responsible for the website, blog, and social media platforms of the project.

Working alongside the PI Dr Michael Heller (Brunel University), and CI Professor Michael Rowlinson (University of Exeter), the position offers exciting opportunities for the development of historical research skills in business and professional archives, publishing in leading global journals, and career development. With a focus on social impact and knowledge exchange, the position also furnishes opportunites to work alongside major corporations, professional associations, and the British Library.

Informal enquires can be made to Dr Michael Heller at (no applications should be sent by email to this address)

Closing date for applications:  Sunday 17th July 2022

For further details and to apply please visit

*This position does not meet the University criteria for Skilled Worker sponsorship.

Brunel University London is fully committed to creating and sustaining a fully inclusive workforce culture. We support flexible working. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds and communities, we particularly welcome applicants who are currently under- represented in our workforce.

My Papers at the European Business History Association Conference

24 06 2022

The EBHA conference is currently taking place in Madrid. I have two co-authored papers on the programme.

Andrew David Smith (University of Liverpool Management School), Nicholas Wong (Northumbria University), Nic Burton (Northumbria University), Ellie
Charalambous (Northumbria University), Allan Discua Cruz (Lancaster University),
The Organizational Paradox of Overseas Worker Exploitation in Quaker-Managed
Confectionary Firms: 1890 to 1917

This paper contributes to theoretical debates about organizational paradoxes through a case study of early twentieth century Quaker confectionary firms that were accused of complicity in slavery overseas.

Andrew David Smith (University of Liverpool Management School), Marta Herrero (York University), Ian Jones (Northumbria University Newcastle), Nicholas Wong (Northumbria University)
Bourdieusian Capital Conversion During Crises of Legitimacy: An examination of
the emergent strategies of Barclays Bank in sponsoring the arts in the UK, 1972 to

This paper contributes to Bourdieusian management theory by examining how managers in a British multinational bank made decisions about how to convert financial capital into symbolic capital so as to maintain the socio-political legitimacy of the firm.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to make it to Madrid but in both cases my co-authors will be there to share research findings.

Historical Research Methods for Management Scholars Workshop

16 06 2022

I’m going to be presenting today to a workshop on historical methods in management research. My presentation will be on process tracing.

Thursday 16th June 2-6 pm UK time
On Zoom – link sent to participants via Outlook invitation[1]

14:00 – 14:15 Welcome and introduction (Bill, Elena & Steph)

14:15 – 15:00 Breakout groups: Sessions 1 + 2  (45 mins)

Session 1 (45 mins):

Chair: Bill Foster
Part 1 – Perspectives on historical methods: Theoretical discussions about historical methods from different perspectives

Chapter 2 – ANTi History, Gabrielle Durepos

Chapter 3 – Historical Organization Studies, Charles Harvey & Mairi Maclean

Chapter 5 – Historical narratives, Mick Rowlinson & John Hassard & Steph Decker (Mick)

Session 2 (45 mins):

Chair: Elena Giovannoni

Part 2.1 – Historical data and sources: Ontological, Epistemological and practical ways of conducting historical research.

Chapter 7 – What is an archive?, Amon Barros

Chapter 8 – How to do research in archives?, Kevin Tennant & Alex Gillet (Kevin, Alex will attend until 3 pm)

Chapter 9 – Oral history interviewing, Valeria Giacomin

15:00 – 15:15 Screen break

15:15 – 16:00 Breakout groups: Session 3 + 4

Session 3 (45 mins):

Chair: Stephanie Decker

Part 2.2 – Historical data and sources: Ontological, Epistemological and practical ways of conducting historical research.

Chapter 11 – Archival Research in the Digital Era, Adam Nix, Stephanie Decker, David Kirsch & Santhi Kuppili Venkata (Adam)

Chapter 13 – Process Tracing Historical Research Methods in Management, Andrew Smith

Chapter 14 – Case Studies, Emily Buchnea

Session 4 (45 mins):

Chair: Bill Foster

Part 4.1 – Historical research for organization and society: Empirical examples of historical methods as a way to investigate specific theoretical constructs.

Chapter 21 – The City of London: Genealogy of contemporary heterotopias: Towards heterotopia studies in business and management history. Nelarine Cornelius & Eric Pezet. (Nelarine)

Chapter 22 – Exploring Organisational Identity through historical research methods, Elena Giovannoni & Pasquale Ruggiero (Elena)

Chapter 24 – Embodied microhistories on the move, Jeanne Mengis, Fabio James Petani & Claudia Scholz (Fabio)

16:00 – 16:15 Screen break

16:15 – 16:45 Ellen Pearce, Editorial Manager (Edward Elgar)

General Q&A

16:45 – 17:15 Breakout groups: Session 5 + Session 6 (30 mins)

Session 5 (30 mins):

Chair: Elena Giovannoni

Part 3 – Historical practices of analysing data and sources

Chapter 17 – Prosopography and Microhistory, Garry Carnegie & Karen McBride (Karen)

Chapter 18 – Insightful empirical knowledge in grounded theory and historical organization studies, Trevor Israelsen & J. Robert Mitchell (Trevor)

Chapter 25 – Narrating Rhetorical History to Project the Appearance of Organizational Authenticity. Kai Lamertz.

Session 6 (30 mins):

Chair: Stephanie Decker

Part 4.2 – Historical research for organization and society: Empirical examples of historical methods as a way to investigate specific theoretical constructs.

Chapter 20 – Researching Past Occurrences: Discovering the past through Conversational Inquiry, Francois Bastien & Diego Coraiola (Francois)

Chapter 26 – The interview and researching collective memory, Jukka Rintimakki, Sebastien Mena & William M Foster (Bill)

Chapter 27 – Taming the ‘mythical beast’: Revisiting the myths of historical research in international business scholarship            Emmanuella Plakoyiannaki, Eriikka Paavilainen-Mäntymäki & Bareerah Hafeez Hooran (Bareerah, Eriikka)

17:15 – 17:30 Screen break

17:30 – 18:00 Group discussion, summing up, next steps

18:00 End


Business History in the 2021 REF

6 06 2022

The REF is the main instrument the UK government uses to evaluate and incentivise research performance in academic units in universities and other research organisations. Effectively, panels of disciplinary experts gather every seven or so years to evaluate the research calibre of all departments/units within their discipline and then rank those units accordingly. So-called QR (Quality Related) funding from the taxpayer is then allocated to the units with the best research performance and is then used to support research activity. Although there was some discussion early in the pandemic that the REF system might be scrapped entirely so that research funding could be placed on more of a private enterprise basis, that idea was never implemented by Amanda Solloway, the then Minister of Science. (In October 2020 she announced that the 2021 REF would go ahead and that she no intention of disrupting its ‘important work’) . However, the date of the REF census of research performance was pushed back because of the pandemic, which meant the results of the REF were not published until early May 2022. (For the REF rankings of UK management schools, see here).

I’m pretty certain that the research outputs of most people who work in the field of business history were submitted to Unit of Assessment 17, although some scholars may have had their outputs read and scored by members of the Economics and Econometrics unit of assessment. It is therefore of tremendous interest to see what the REF panel members for Business and Management Studies think about the contribution of business-historical research to business and management studies. Charles Harvey, a very distinguished business history at the University of Newcastle, forwarded this analysis of business history and the REF to his fellow members of the Association of the Business Historians. His insights are useful because they give us a sense of how REF reviewers likely to view business historical research outputs in the future. Research evaluation, like beauty pageants, has a huge subjective element and is highly culturally specific. What might be considered good research in one national context would not be considered very good in another country. It is therefore very important for business historians in the UK to think about what the REF results reveal about the true preferences of the population of individuals who acted as REF reviewers in 2021, since that population will likely be very similar at the time of the next REF, which will likely be in 2022. The Business and Management academics this time round were predominantly academics at UK universities (a few practitioners from private industry also acted as reviewers), are people with the rank of full professor, and are British citizens either by birth or naturalisation. EDI considerations related to gender and race influenced how the REF panels are formed and every REF panel must include strong representation from each of the four nations of the UK. I strongly suspect that if there is a REF in the future, the same sorts of principles will inform how the REF juries are appointed. I also know that REF panellists take their fiduciary duties to the taxpayer seriously, just as citizens who serve on criminal case juries generally take their work seriously.

For an individual researcher, several key points stand out from Charles’s analysis. First, the reviewers tend to respect and give brownie points to publications based on solid archival research. That’s useful data for people planning how to allocate their scarce research time. Second, those books that were submitted to the REF were highly rated by the scholars who read them. (Knowing how academics think about the world, I bet that books published by the presses of ancient universities scored very highly indeed). Third, business historians must continue to work to contribute to theoretical debates.

May 2022
Overview report by Main Panel C
and Sub-panels 3 to24
Business History

  1. The upward trajectory of the Business History discipline related to Business and Management since REF 2014 is reflected in the increase in both the number and quality of submitted outputs.
  2. The majority of the submitted outputs were deemed to be world-leading or internationally excellent, in terms of originality, rigour and significance. Outputs displayed strength from both empirical and theoretical perspectives. In addition, a pleasing number of outputs addressed methodological advancements within the domain. While the vast majority of submitted outputs were journal articles, authored books were also a feature, with the majority of submitted books judged to be of world- leading quality.
  3. Several key issues were characteristic of the discipline’s development since REF 2014 and worthy of note. Firstly, the growing importance of the role of Business History in advancing theory; secondly, the increasing interdisciplinarity of the area, evident, for example, in the emergence of historical organisation studies. Methodologically, the discipline embraced diverse approaches. However, archival research dominated those outputs judged to be world-leading. A striking feature of the discipline was the very high level of rigour evident across the returned outputs.
  4. Business History clearly reaches across the range of B&M disciplines, making contributions, for example, to Entrepreneurship, International Business, Marketing, Retailing, Strategy, Accounting, Political Economy, Finance and Economics.

How Not To Think About the Relationship Between African Slavery and Business in the Present

25 05 2022

In the last week, there has been an epic social media flame war between some members of the business history community about the historical relationship between business and slavery. The debate has been frustrating to watch because it has involved scholars, some of whom are hardworking publishers with good research outputs, throwing around vague claims that would be hard to test empirically. Even worse, there has been name calling among the community of academics who do historical research and who work in management schools.

In any event, the debate can be summarised more or less as follows. The implied theory of historical causation that is lurking in the position of one side of this debate is that African slavery (the middle passage, the cotton plantations of the American south, etc) was the foundation of the cluster of economic institutions that we today label as “capitalism”. The apparent claim is that capitalism today, particularly the variant of capitalism in existence in the United States, is different than it otherwise would have been because slavery was, for a long time, an integral part of the economic system of part of the Western world. There is a slightly different claim which says that “managerial practices” were changed because of slavery — the insinuation is that how some or all managers today do their jobs is slightly or significantly different than would otherwise have been the case because of slavery. Precisely how “capitalism” or “management” is measurably different because of slavery’s legacy is never really stated and there is zero effort to quantify or to specific examples of actions in the present that are influenced by the slavery. A closely related implied claim is that GDPPC in the US and the UK today are somehow higher than would otherwise have been the case. This claim or rather insinuation was made by some of the non-academic authors associated with the 1619 project. In plain English, the argument is that white British people and white Americans are richer today than otherwise would have been the case because some of their ancestors enslaved and exploited Africans. (For a fair and recent summary of this debate, see this new paper in the JEL by Gavin Wright).

The other side in this debate hates these three claims and seems to see painstaking scholarly research trying to document the historical legacies of slavery as all a pile of crap of the type Jordan Peterson warned you about. There is a large dose of ideology running through these debates.

Personally, I think that the debate over the historical relationship between historical slavery and present-day capitalism is long on gross generalizations and short on details. I’m also disturbed that the terms of the debate are being framed by a series of articles in a freaking newspaper (!!!). Rather than talking about capitalism in general, they should talk about capitalism in specific places. I used to share the view that we shouldn’t use the vague term “capitalism” at all in academic research, since it was originally a term of abuse coined by snobbish people who just didn’t like businessmen. However, I’ve been convinced that it can helpful to use this term as a shorthand for what the WTO and international trade lawyers call “countries with Market Economy Status (MES)” or what I might call “societies in which market mechanisms and price signals play a leading role in coordinating production”. If the term capitalism is good enough for Oliver Williamson, it’s good enough for me.

However, if we are going to use the term capitalism in historical analysis, we should be very attentive to differences between forms of capitalism in different times and places. There is a vast literature showing that institutions of capitalism vary considerable even among OECD countries. There is also a hell of a lot of variation in institutions within countries, both between industries and between regions. Is capitalism in Manhattan really the same as capitalism in rural Maine? Similarly, what we mean by “business” varies by time and place. Keep these distinctions between types of capitalism and types of business in mind is crucial in thinking carefully about the legacies of slavery. I’m pleading for nuance and following the evidence here.

I would strongly suspect that the institutions of capitalism in, say, present-day Munich or Salt Lake City, were not affected that much by African slavery. Other local histories made capitalism in those places different from what might be called generic capitalism. However, I strongly suspect that capitalism in Alabama or Brazil is different from capitalism elsewhere precisely because of slavery and its legacies. We know from an AMJ paper by Pierce and Snyder (2020) that there are measurable differences between the institutions of capitalism in those African countries that were directly affected by the slave trade compared to those that weren’t visited by European slave traders. It is very plausible to argue that these differences are somehow caused by the legacies of slavery because we know from other research that the parts of Africa where Europeans sourced slaves were permanently changed by all of the slave-raiding and slave-trading. According to research done by Nathan Nunn and colleagues, African people from those tribes were targetted by the slave trade are less trusting of strangers than are other Africans, even after you control for other variables (understandably so!). Given that so much of what we call business/capitalism is based on trust (e.g. in a restaurant, the staff bring food to the table in the hopes the customer will pay for it after), it would be strange indeed if the legacies of historical slavery didn’t produce a measurable impact on business activity in some way. The fact Alabama is a relatively poor state probably isn’t exclusively a function of the fact it was a slave state, but it is plausible to hypothesise that slavery has something to do with its present-day economic position and that the US as a whole would today be wealthier if there had never been slavery in the South. We know that the homicide rate in the Deep South is about three times higher than in the parts of the US than in the states that remained in the Union during the Civil War. Counties in the western states that were settled by white Southerners after the abolition of slavery are today more violent than are countries in the west that were settled by whites from the North after the abolition of slavery. (Yes, there are mass shootings even in New England, but in general the old slave states are more violent).

I suspect that the best way to research the impact of slavery on present-day capitalism in the United States would be to use county level data. You would look at the US counties that had the most slaves in 1860, then do a regression analysis to see how business and management in those counties today is different. The same basic procedure found that homicide rates are today highest in the US counties that had the most slavery in 1860. Even after you control for all of the other variables, the historical incidence of slavery as reported by the 1860 census explains much the variance in homicides rates between US counties. Lots of studies have found that the  proportion of slaves in a UC county’s population in the 1860 census is associated with lots of negative socio-economic outcomes in the present. Why not use that tried and tested methodology to investigate the long-term impact of slavery on management and business? I suspect that we would find that the presence of many slaves in a county in 1860 is associated with fewer patent filings per capita in the present.

My Sessions at the 2022 AoM Meeting

24 05 2022

I have a number of papers on the programme of the 2022 Academy of Management conference in Seattle. I’m posting the details below.

Session Type: Paper Session
Submission: 18895 | Sponsor(s): (MH)
Session Format: In-person Only: Seattle
Scheduled: Sunday, Aug 7 2022 2:00PM – 3:30PM PT (UTC-7) at Hyatt Regency Seattle in 305 Chelais

Business Ethics, Corporate Historic Crimes and Religious Identity in Management History Research

Session Moderator: James M. Wilson, U. of Glasgow

MH: A Cursory Overview of Business Ethics Theme-oriented Diversity-oriented
Author: Aleta Sanford, Minnesota State U., Moorhead
Author: Gokce Serdar, Minnesota State U., Moorhead
Author: Siwei Zhu, Minnesota State U., Moorhead

The ethical dimension of business has long been acknowledged; however, specific frameworks for implementing ethics in business contexts have arisen and garnered attention. This paper aims to provide a brief overview of the evolution of business ethics throughout history, beginning with broader normative ethical theories that can be applied to businesses and then moving to business-specific theories. An understanding of the past, including both ethical theories and the history of modern business, can illuminate the current situation and layout potential future directions for the discipline and practice of business ethics. The paper takes a literature review approach, conducting several searches with no time restrictions, to summarize and understand critical movements in business ethics that impact the practice of modern business. The contributions of this paper include a high-level overview of the current status of ethics in business as well as future directions for both the research and practice of business ethics.

MH: Accounting, Religious Identity, Control and Discipline in the Quaker Lead Company, c.1800–c. 1860
Author: Tom McLean, Durham U. Business School
Author: Tom McGovern, Newcastle U.

Business histories of Quaker firms have generally presented them as enlightened employers and providers of industrial welfare. Quaker labour management and industrial welfare practices during the British Industrial Revolution (BIR) have been relatively neglected by accounting and business historians We conduct a ‘macro’ study of the roles of accounting in labour control and discipline and the provision of industrial welfare during the BIR in the religious, social and institutional contexts of the Quaker Lead Company. The research draws upon literature and data which present divergent views of the Company’s employment practices. The research finds that the historical construction of Quakers as enlightened employers and industrial philanthropists must be viewed with much caution. There was little that was uniquely and distinctively ‘Quaker’ in the Company’s approaches to labour control and discipline and its use of accounting in these respects.

MH: Situational Influences on how Daisy Douglas Barr turned from Quaker Minister to Ku Klux Klan Empress Theme-oriented Diversity-oriented
Author: Jay J. Janney, U. of Dayton
Author: Terry L Amburgey, U. of Toronto
Author: Della Stanley-Green, U. of Dayton

Famed Quaker minister and pastor Daisy Douglass Barr did not change her message but she changed her audience in the 1920s, from Friends Meetinghouses to Ku Klux Klan rallies. We argue three situational influences contributed to her decision. First, the rise of paid pastors (1870s) increased ministerial turnover, as paid ministers moved to larger congregations. In addition, Friends became more open to allying with non-Quaker organizations. Second the 1902 merger of the Men’s and Women’s Monthly Meeting for Worship and Business decreased networking opportunities for ministers. Finally, the Ku Klux Klan formally adopted several social activism values consistent with protestant denominational values, including temperance. A minister who advocated for temperance did not have to change their message, while enjoying the potential for larger audiences and more compensation.

MH: Why Do Organizations Respond Differently When Accused of Historic Crimes? Theme-oriented Diversity-oriented
Author: Andrew D A Smith, U. of Liverpool
Author: William Foster, U. of Alberta
Author: Jason Russell, State U. of New York Empire State College
Author: Emily Buchnea, Newcastle Business School, Northumbria U.

This paper contributes to the growing literature on corporate historic crimes by challenging the ways of thinking about moral evaluation that have hitherto informed research on this topic. We do so by examining managers’ responses to the ongoing campaign for corporate reparations for slavery. In recent years, social movements such as BLM have called upon the firms that historically profited from African slavery to apologize and pay reparations. We show that these firms have responded in strikingly different ways when confronted by activists who produced irrefutable evidence that they had once profited from slavery. Some of these firms apologising profusely and announced they would spend on restorative justice measures, while other firms facing essentially similar accusations refused to apologize or even comment on the accusation. We explain this difference in response with the Social Intuitionist Model (SIM) of moral reasoning. We find that while part of the observed difference in firm responses can be easily explained by looking at their current business models, firm responses were also strongly influenced by political ideology, a factor largely ignored by the extant literature on historic corporate responsibility. In the model we develop to explain firm responses to accusations of immoral behaviour in the past, a key factor is the nature of the moral universe inhabited by the firm’s managers and stakeholders. When a firm’s core stakeholders and managers inhabit the “moral universe” associated with the present-day Anglo-American left, the firm is much more likely to apologise for its historical connections to racial slavery than if its core stakeholders and managers inhabit the moral universe associated with political conservativism. We identify important implications for business ethics researchers and practitioners.

Session Type: Paper Session
Submission: 18896 | Sponsor(s): (MH)
Session Format: In-person Only: Seattle
Scheduled: Monday, Aug 8 2022 9:00AM – 10:30AM PT (UTC-7) at Hyatt Regency Seattle in 407 Satsop

Family Firms, Enterprising Communities, Management and Accounting History Research

Session Moderator: Stephen Cummings, Victoria U. of Wellington

MH: Historical Narratives and the Process of Next Generation Engagement in Family Firms Research-oriented
Author: Andrew D A Smith, U. of Liverpool
Author: Nicholas Wong, Newcastle Business School, Northumbria U.

There is growing interest in family business on next-generation engagement, the processes by which older family members persuade younger individuals to commit to the family firm rather than pursue outside career opportunities. Recent research on the “Uses of the Past” and historical narratives. To date little has been written about how family firms use historical narratives in next-generation engagement. We address this gap by drawing on the ecological approach to family narratives and shed fresh light on the patterns that demonstrate how rhetorical history is used to persuade younger members of families to commit to careers within the family firm and to behave in ways that the older family members deem to be important. In our paper we identify two types of rhetorical history that are used in next-generation engagement: identity-enrolment rhetorical history, which is used to get the younger person to identify strongly with the family firm, and performative rhetorical history, which is meant to get the individual who has already committed to the family firm to behave in a particular fashion. Our analysis is informed by social-identity theory and cross-cultural management research so that gender and national culture are recognized as important moderators in our analysis.

MH: Up in Smoke? Rhetorical and Material Dynamics in Community Identities
Author: Matthew CB Lyle, U. of Colorado, Colorado Springs
Author: Ashley Hockensmith, U. of Massachusetts, Amherst
Author: Ian Walsh, Bentley U.

Prior research suggests that, while organizations often spur material and rhetorical changes to communities, such outcomes are variable in terms of altering what it means to be of that place. In this paper, we draw on Molotch, Freudenburg, and Paulsen’s (2000) framework to develop a multiple case study of two communities where recreational cannabis dispensaries were founded. Specifically, we conceptualize the entrance of novel ventures as a potential identity threat that catalyzes the conjoining of materiality and rhetoric – critical components of collective identity – at a particular time. Qualitative analyses of various data sources, including interviews, community meetings, observations and archival materials from 2016 until 2020 allowed us to theorize processes through which these elements co-evolve and advance our understanding of the iterative nature of community identity dynamics and the actors involved in shaping them.

MH: Informal Institutions as Inhibitors of Rent-Seeking Entrepreneurship: Evidence from U.S. History

Author: Graham Brownlow, Queen’s Management School, Queen’s U. Belfast
Author: Andrew D A Smith, U. of Liverpool

Rent-seeking entrepreneurship occurs whenever entrepreneurs use the political process to extract economic gains without returning commensurate benefits to society (Baumol 1990; Sobel, 2008; Choi and Storr, 2019). While we know that nations with “inclusive” political institutions such as democracy (Acemoglu and Robinson, 2019) have significantly less rent-seeking entrepreneurship than do other nations, rentseeking entrepreneurship remains widespread even in long-established democracies. We therefore need to know more about institutional arrangements that can discourage rent-seeking entrepreneurs in democratic countries. The core research question informing this paper is, therefore: how do changes in norms, beliefs, and similar informal institutions moderate the effectiveness of formal institutions that discourage rent-seeking entrepreneurship? To help answer this question, we draw on historical data from the experience of the United States since 1791. Features of the United States Constitution, such as its explicit protection for property rights, discourage rentseeking entrepreneurship. At various points since the ratification of the Constitution, American policymakers have modified the country’s formal institutions with amendments that had the net effect, at least in the short term, of discouraging rentseeking entrepreneurship and channeling the energies of entrepreneurs into more socially-productive activities. This paper presents an explanation for why the effectiveness of these formal institutions in deterring rent-seeking entrepreneurship in the United States has varied over time. We develop a generalizable process model based on our findings and then explain how this model can useful in future research on a wide range of countries.

MH: Management Accounting: Past, Present, and Future of Double-Entry Bookkeeping and Ledger Research-oriented
Author: Giovanna Centorrino, U. of Messina
Author: Valeria Naciti, U. of Messina
Author: Daniela Rupo, U. of Messina

The paper investigates the current state of studies on double-entry bookkeeping and ledgers in accounting through a bibliometrics analysis from 1990 to 2021. The study allows for interpretation of the development of accounting information systems, as they are evolving under the impulse given by recent disruptive information technology. We use a sample of 230 publications collected from the Web of Science. We adopted VOSviewer software to illustrate different relational techniques: citation, co-citation, keyword co-occurrence, and bibliographic coupling analyses. The results highlight the emergence of some recent research streams that appear weakly connected with traditional prior studies on the foundation of modern accounting, albeit sharing the same roots with seminal contributions of accounting history in terms of implications for trustiness, morality, and communication. The main finding is a better understanding of the growing interest in double-entry bookkeeping and ledger, focusing on blockchain and its dimensions. This study contributes to the existing literature on the significance of double-entry bookkeeping and ledger by enhancing it with a much more comprehensive, reliable picture given by bibliometrics analysis. The universality of accounting language is called upon to describe new “genealogies of calculation” by converging professional and academic efforts in a field that can benefit widely from a transdisciplinary approach to research.

CfP: Microhistory in Management History and Organization Theory

23 05 2022

Special Issue of Management and Organizational History.

Special Issue Editor(s)

Liv EgholmCopenhagen Business School

Michael HellerBrunel Business School

Michael RowlinsonUniversity of Exeter Business School

There has been a resurgence of interest in microhistory. The classic texts associated with the subject remain immensely popular: The Cheese and the Worms (Ginzburg, 1992[1976]); The Return of Martin Guerre (Zemon Davis, 1983); and The Great Cat Massacre (Darnton, 1984). These provide a reference point, which has provided the basis for increasing reflection on the theoretical significance and methodological distinctiveness of microhistory (Magnússon & Szijártó, 2013), such as the special issue of Past and Present on ‘Global History and Microhistory’ (Ghobrial, 2019). Attention has also been paid to microhistory from management and business history as well as organization studies (Bourguignon & Floquet, 2019; Decker, 2015).

Microhistory offers an opportunity to reconceptualise relationships which lie at the heart of historical research and historiography: the historical nexus between the particular and the general, agency and structure, the micro and the macro. Microhistorians are known for their methodological habit of reading sources forensically in their search for historical clues. It implies reading historical sources ‘against the grain’ (Decker & McKinlay, 2020, pp. 26-27), or as Levi (2019: 41) puts it, ‘beyond the edge of the page’, carefully looking for what Ginzburg refers to as “unintended evidence” (Ginzburg, 2016). The use of microhistory as a magnifying glass can be seen as the equivalent of a detective’s tool. Sherlock Holmes´ working methods are often used as a metaphor for microhistory’s careful readings and detection of clues (Ginzburg, 2013 (1979)), often within “exceptional normal” cases (Grendi, 1977).

For this reason, the trademark of microhistorical methodology is to trace sources and clues throughout and across archives (Ginzburg, 2013). The names of actors, places, concepts, events, or objects are used as concrete entry points to show how previously unrelated spaces, temporalities, and fields are woven together in practice. This mapping demonstrates great potential in revealing unnoticed relations between, for example, family life and entrepreneurship (Popp & Holt, 2013), religious practices and trade (Trivellato, 2019), or philanthropic gift giving and the establishment of the welfare state (Egholm, 2021).

The purpose is not to argue for the universal value of the exceptional; it is to show, rather, how discrete historical events challenge our conceptualisations of the universal, and provide essential clues to what can be considered as normal (Ginzburg, 1979; Peltonen, 2001). Accordingly, the reduction of scale is not the study of the “microness” of a phenomenon (Levi, 2019, p. 38). The reduction of scale, rather, provides the historian with a heuristic tool to craft new theories by distorting or amending metanarratives and reformulating historical concepts and relations. Without explicitly mentioning microhistory, a series of organizational phenomena have been reconceptualized from a close reading of sources, with notable examples being the career (McKinlay, 2002), and entrepreneurship (Popp & Holt, 2013. Thus, microhistory shows how, “history is a discipline of general questions and ‘local’ answers” (Levi, 2019, p. 45).

The historic turn (Rowlinson, Hassard, & Decker, 2014) has pushed for a revised understanding of past context as offering more than simply temporal variables for universal theorising (Van Lent & Durepos, 2019). Historical phenomena often remain, however, reduced to consequences or affectations of particular contexts. In contrast, microhistory calls out for a grounding and explanation of the past through analyses of how actors, places, concepts, events or objects interact and are woven together in contradictory and often different fields and interests. In so doing, microhistory exposes how both individuals and social structures of all kinds are produced simultaneously through relationships and processes.

This special issue’s scope is to explore the methodological, ontological, and empirical strengths of microhistory to advance management history and organization studies. Therefore, we invite both theoretical, and theoretically informed empirical submissions that will further the contribution of microhistory in business history, management, and organizational history, as well as management and organization theory.

Questions and topics of interest for the special issue may include:

  1. How does the use of microhistory question, elaborate, or develop macro theories or broader conceptualisations from within the confines of discrete and particular historical studies
  2. How do microhistorical methodologies of reading “beyond the edges of the paper” contradict and undermine broader historical narratives in business and management and organizational history such as Marxism, functionalism, institutionalism, neo-liberalism, the resource-based view of the firm, and economic path dependency?
  3. What are the advantages and concerns for the use of historical archival research, source criticism, triangulation, and historical interpretivism when innovative microhistorical methodologies work with “dissonant sources” and “unintended evidence”?
  4. What is the impact of microhistory in relation to archival ethnography and the employment of micro historical sources (e.g., letters, diaries, postcards, travel accounts, scrapbooks, and memoirs)?
  5. What is the way in which local knowledge and local environment historically create organizational, business, and entrepreneurial opportunities?
  6. How does a microhistorical approach reconceptualise the relationship between agency and structure in business and management and organizational history?
  7. What is the relationship between the different scales of history? In particular, to what extent do microhistories develop historical accounts that reflect on a granular scale broader organizational and business historical environments and trends?
  8. How can we account for generalisation by using a microhistorical approach? How can local answers reply to general questions by showing complex and often ambiguous connections in historical archives?

More information can be found here.

Exiting Russia: A New Paradigm for Geopolitical Corporate Responsibility?

13 04 2022

I’m sharing this announcement here because the high level of historical content promised here means that this talk should be of interest to business historians, at least those in suitable time zones.

Lecture | April 13 | 4-6 p.m. | 223 Moses Hall

Speaker/Performer: Bennett Freeman, Associate Fellow Chatham House and former SVP, Calvert Investments

Sponsor: Institute of International Studies

Since late February, there has been an unprecedented exodus of Western
business from Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Multinational
corporations across sectors have suspended or terminated operations for
mostly reputational and political reasons, with sanctions from Western
governments deepening Russia’s economic isolation.

Will these actions give impetus to a new geopolitical corporate
responsibility that elevates human rights and avoids operating in countries
whose governments commit war crimes and crimes against humanity? Can there
be such a doctrine or at least a framework that is both ethical and
practical, consistent and constructive? If applied to Russia, can and
should it be extended to China, Saudi Arabia, and other countries and if so
on what basis? What historical precedents, including divestment from South
Africa during apartheid and from Sudan during the Darfur genocide, inform
such an approach? Should multinational corporations make such political
judgments and to what extent should they be guided by the policies and
actions of their home country governments and the international community?
Can the application of political risk analysis and human rights due
diligence converge for companies and investors alike? How can unintended
human rights and humanitarian as well as economic consequences for civilian
populations be avoided? Beyond the UN Guiding Principles on Business and
Human Rights that establish companies as human rights actors, is there a
legitimate normative responsibility for business to support the rules-based
international order?

Chatham House Associate Fellow Bennett Freeman will raise these questions
and offer tentative answers from his perspective as former Senior Vice
President at Calvert Investments and former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary
of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

Note: Zoom and In Person options available. Please register in advance.

CFP: Firms, Wars, and Ethics in the Business History of Central and Eastern Europe and Russia

11 04 2022

Firms, Wars, and Ethics in the Business History of Central and Eastern Europe and Russia
Place: Università Ca’ Foscari, Venice

Date: October 21-22, 2022

For this 4th Workshop on Business History in Central and Eastern Europe, the organizers invite scholars, including Ph.D. students, of any relevant discipline to submit paper proposals on a broad range of topics related to business actors & corporate behavior in (and after) armed conflicts during the 20th century.
The workshop will particularly draw on historical research on the two World Wars and their aftermaths to provide tentative answers to several questions evoked by the Russia-Ukraine war of 2022. The aim is to explore the relationship between business and geopolitics from a long-term historical perspective focusing on the economic and social consequences of the war, including (de)globalization processes.

Conference context: On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, causing thousands of deaths among civilians, colossal damage in the infrastructure, and forcing over 10 million people to leave their homes. In response, democratic states have demonstrated unprecedented unity and imposed extensive economic sanctions on Russia. The combination of military conflict, economic warfare, and humanitarian crisis has had an enormous impact on the economic environment, including the disruption of global supply chains, commodity price shock, increased market volatility, and making the world’s economic development, already hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, even more unpredictable.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has affected both the multinational companies as well as the domestic firms operating in Central-Eastern Europe. Within just a few weeks, companies running in CEE faced challenges rarely dealt with at business schools. Companies face ethical dilemmas and feel strong pressure from their shareholders and stakeholders, forcing them to make decisions that go well beyond usual business thinking and strategizing. Thousands of companies have decided to divest, withdraw, or scale down their operations in Russia. In contrast, others justify their decision to stay with their responsibility towards their employees in Russia and their unwillingness to deprive Russia’s population of essential goods such as food and medical supplies.

The events unfolding in the last weeks in Ukraine and CEE have presented business historians with serious

questions concerning:

  1. The role of business in military conflicts and post-war development. What are the various roles firms play in armed conflicts? How is the role of companies decided in conflicts? How and why can some companies benefit from war while others suffer disruption and destruction in their production and distribution networks? Why do some companies embrace the role of humanitarian actors providing welfare and assistance, while others that of political actors using their activities to build bridges for peace? Which role can business enterprises play in post-war development? How fast do companies return to the countries affected by war, and how do their previous decisions impact the post-war future? How does organizational resilience manifest itself in the aftermath of war? What can we learn from the experience of the First and the Second World Wars?
  2. Business ethics vs. unethical corporate behavior. What does (business) history teach us about ethical behavior in times of war? How does public pressure affect corporate behavior and reputation? To what extent can ethical leadership and corporate social responsibility contribute to solving the humanitarian crisis? How do firms/managers decide what they perceive (un)ethical? Who are the main actors in this process?
  3. Corporate lessons from uncomfortable pasts. Most historians do not embrace the naïve view of “learning from history” as history does not repeat itself. However, is there something that we can learn from corporate entanglement in wars and corporate strategies after armed conflicts? Are there implications after the war for companies operating in belligerent countries who perceive their activities as neutral? What are the advantages of staying or leaving for firms trying to rebuild their business abroad after a war? What role, if any, does corporate memory and corporal forgetting play in facilitating conflicts? Who decides and who should decide what to remember and forget, especially in the case of uncomfortable or dark heritage?
    We invite fellow scholars to discuss corporate behavior during past wars and humanitarian crises to contribute to our understanding of the Russia-Ukraine war and its possible consequences for business in Central and Eastern Europe from a historical perspective. The workshop is aimed to engage in a debate about the behavior of business actors and to understand whether and how firms’ behavior during and after wars has changed over time and across regions. The call is open to all topics that fit the general scope of the workshop. Although our focus is Central Eastern Europe, we welcome studies concerning other regions if they contribute to deepening our understanding of the topic.To apply, please, send an abstract of 500 words presenting the subject, the conceptual framework, the analytical approach, and the controversial issue(s) to tackle within the discussion, along with a maximum two-page-long CV by April 28, 2022, to Valentina Fava Papers for presentation will be selected following a peer-review procedure.
    The format of the workshops is designed to support a comprehensive discussion on selected topics. We welcome both panel proposals dealing with conceptual and methodological questions and brief contributions. Participants are invited to submit a written paper (not exceeding 6,000 words) three weeks before the workshop. We will distribute these texts among the workshop participants prior to the workshop.
    The organizers are currently applying to foundations for financial support to cover the costs of workshop participants. Colleagues from Central and Eastern Europe will be prioritized.
    Organizers: Ulf Brunnbauer (Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (IOS), Regensburg), Valentina Fava (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia), Alfred Reckendrees (Copenhagen Business School), Thomasz Olejniczak (Kozminski University, Warsaw), Volodymyr Kulikov (The Ukrainian Catholic University).
    The workshop series is supported by the European Business History Association