Prof VideoBombed by Own Kids in Skype Interview

13 03 2017

This video is amusing and will delight any academic who is a parent and who has done media interviews with a child in the next room.

The way the mother in the video slides into the room reminds me of the character Kramer from the 1990s TV show Seinfeld.

Extended deadline: History & Ethnography

11 03 2017

This looks like a very useful event. I would go but sadly I’ll be in Canada on the first day of the workshop.

Organizational History Network

Conference submission deadline extended to 31 March!!

12th Annual International Ethnography Symposium

“Politics and Ethnography in an Age of Uncertainty”

29 August – 1 September 2017 
Alliance Manchester Business School

Stream 3: History and Ethnography

Stephanie Decker and John Hassard

History and ethnography have largely evolved in parallel, despite some significant research contributions from historical ethnography and ethnographic history (Rowlinson, Hassard, & Decker, 2014). To a large extent, organizational ethnographers research ‘literate’ settings in which social actors essentially self-document their experience through a variety of genres of anthropological and sociological writing. However, as Paul Atkinson and Amanda Coffey have pointed out, “many qualitative researchers continue to produce ethnographic accounts of complex, literate social worlds as if they were entirely without documents or text” (Atkinson & Coffey, 2011, p. 78). In this stream, we aim to bring the practices of historical research (largely but not exclusively text-based) closer to the…

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Important New Article: When too many are not enough: Human resource slack and performance at the Dutch East India Company (1700–1795)

7 03 2017

AS: I’m drawing your attention to an important business-historical article that recently appeared in Human Relations, a journal that has been added to the prestigious FT50 list.

Stoyan V. Sgourev and Wim van Lent. “When too many are not enough: Human resource slack and performance at the Dutch East India Company (1700–1795).” Human Relations (2017): 0018726717691340.

Slack is an elusive concept in organizational research, with studies documenting a variety of relationships between slack and firm performance. We advocate treating slack not as a resource, but as a practice – a sequence of events and responses over time. A longitudinal analysis of the Dutch East India Company (1700–1795) highlights the use of slack as a response to a resource constraint (the shortage of skilled labor). After documenting the negative performance effects of skill shortage, we identify a trade-off in the use of human resource slack (number of sailors above what is operationally required), in which slack enhanced operational reliability, but reduced efficiency. Derived from a historical context, this trade-off has contemporary relevance and is helpful in reconciling contradictory evidence on slack.

What is the purpose of the corporation?

7 03 2017

Is it simply to maximize shareholder value? No, according to the Modern Corporation Project, which has produced an excellent video that explains the problems with shareholder value ideology in simple terms that would be accessible to a first-year undergraduate.

I’m sharing the video here in case it is useful to any of my readers in their teaching work.

Incidentally, some of the people behind the video have submitted a response to the UK Government’s Green Paper on Corporate Governance reform. Their paper, which was produced by a team of authors based at Cass Business School, Frank Bold and Sheffield Institute of Corporate and Commercial Law, can be downloaded here.

The Archives Advantage: Indian Edition

7 03 2017

The Economic Times has published a short but interesting story about how India’s Tata Group uses its corporate archives in Pune to maintain its competitive advantage. This story is particularly interesting to me for while there is a growing body of literature on how firms in the West and in Japan use history,  much less has been published about the uses of the past in emerging market multinationals.

More information about the Tata Central Archives can be found here.

Special Issue: Indian Business in the Global World

6 03 2017

Business History 

Indian business history remains a largely unexplored area of research for a European and North American academic audience. Hitherto Indian business history has largely been addressed within a dichotomy of its relationship to the rise of the domestic economic industrialization or alternatively within a context of subordination to, and exploitation by, western multinationals. Thus the relationship between indigenous development and Indian firms’ integration and growth within a wider world economy has been paid little attention.

This call for a special edition of Business History on Indian Business in the Global World seeks to place the development of Indian business in its wider relationships to both the Indian domestic economy and the world economy.

Papers which explore the 20th century and the transition to independence in 1947, with its influence on the dynamics of Indian business would be welcome. Many of the fundamental elements of Indian business development had matured prior to 1947 but gained additional recognition following independence. The development of the agency model of business organization for diversified firms, labour processes, industrial conflict and social stratification are just some of these themes. An examination of the continuing importance of these developments post-independence would thus also be welcome submissions.

We would also welcome papers which explore Indian business within a wider context of exchanging and transferring knowledge, know-how and competences within the wider world economy, the nexus of contracts and relationships in which goods, technologies and know-how are the focus of study rather than national borders. Focus could be at the level of practice, firm, sector or government. We encourage a cross-disciplinary approach to investigating these issues and would welcome papers drawing on international business, management and economics concepts.

Submission instructions

Articles should be based on original research and/or innovative analysis and should not be under consideration by another journal. All articles should be submitted by 31 March 2017 via ScholarOne using the URL link listed below, clearly indicating in the dropdown list that they are for the Special Issue on Indian Business in the Global World. All the articles will be peer reviewed and, therefore, some may be rejected. Authors should ensure that their manuscripts fully comply with the formatting regulations of Business History.

Editorial information

Adolf Berle (Roosevelt’s Brains Trust)

4 03 2017

Great photo of Berle here!

adolf-berleAndrew Smith (University of Liverpool) and Kevin Tennent (University of York) and I have been working on two projects that focus on the work of Adolf Berle.  Berle was a member of Franklin Roosevelt’s Brains Trust during the New Deal era.  Berle collaborated with Gardiner Means on a booked called The Modern Corporation and Private Property that looked at the problem of corporate power in the early 1930s.  It was a remarkably prescient book considering the current state of corporate power around the world.  Here is a recording of Berle speaking on New York politics:

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