Management History Division: Get Involved and VOTE

29 04 2018

Thanks to OHN for publicizing this very important initiative. At the time of this election, it is very important for researchers to speak with one voice.

Organizational History Network

In recent years management and organizational history has become an exciting and rapidly changing field, with new ideas and approaches transforming the field and many publication opportunities at leading journals. The AOM’s Management History Division is one of the key institutional foundations for these developments, but the Division needs involvement and support from scholars who are engaged and care about the future of the field. So please get involved. The AOM recently announced the release of the ballot for division elections. If you are already a member of the MH Division, please take time to vote!!! If you are not a member but care about management history, please join the Division, vote now, and join us in Chicago!  The instructions for joining the MH Division can be found here:

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CFP: Business History Conference 2019, Cartagena

23 04 2018

The 2019 annual meeting of the Business History Conference will be held in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, on March 14–16. The theme of the meeting will be “Globalization and De-Globalization: Shifts of Power and Wealth.” The recent phenomena of the spread of populist and economic nationalist regimes throughout North America, Europe, Asia and elsewhere taking positions against the major trading blocks and the free movement of people and goods make the topic of this conference very timely. The conference aims to concentrate on business history research agendas that enable a nuanced understanding of the phenomena of globalization and de-globalization.

The conference theme encourages contributions from a variety of approaches to business history research, covering a broad range of geographies and periods. The program committee of Marcelo Bucheli (co-chair), Andrea Lluch (co-chair), Takafumi KurosawaEspen StorliLaura Sawyer, and Teresa da Silva Lopes (BHC president) invites paper proposals addressing the following topics, but not limited to:

  • the contribution of firms and the entrepreneurs to globalization and de-globalization
  • the role and responsibility of business in shifts of power, wealth and inequality
  • the rise of emerging markets and the globalization of firms from those markets
  • globalization and environmental and social sustainability
  • business and gender during waves of globalization and de-globalization
  • risk management during globalization waves

While we encourage proposals to take up this theme, papers addressing all other topics will receive equal consideration by the program committee in accordance with BHC policy. Proposals may be submitted for individual papers or for entire panels. Each proposal should include a one-page abstract and one-page curriculum vitae (CV) for each participant. Panel proposals should have a cover letter containing a title, a one-paragraph panel description, and suggestions for a chair and commentator, with contact information for the panel organizer. To submit a proposal go to and click on the link Submit a Paper/Panel Proposal.

All sessions will take place at the Hilton Hotel Cartagena. Rooms (all suites) are $169/night single and $189/double occupancy (plus tax) and include a full breakfast. General questions regarding the BHC’s 2019 annual meeting may be sent to conference coordinator Roger Horowitz,

The K. Austin Kerr Prize will be awarded for the best first paper delivered by a new scholar at the annual meeting. A “new scholar” is defined as a doctoral candidate or a Ph. D. whose degree is less than three years old. You must nominate your paper for this prize on the proposal submission page where indicated. Please check the appropriate box if your proposal qualifies for inclusion in the Kerr Prize competition.

The deadline for receipt of all paper and panel proposals is October 1, 2018.

The BHC awards the Herman E. Krooss Prize for the best English-language dissertation in business history by a recent Ph.D. in history, economics, business administration, the history of science and technology, sociology, law, communications, and related fields. To be eligible, dissertations must be completed in the three calendar years immediately prior to the 2019 annual meeting, and may only be submitted once for the Krooss prize. After the Krooss committee has reviewed the proposals, it will ask semi-finalists to submit copies of their dissertations. Finalists will present summaries of their dissertations at a plenary session and will receive a partial subsidy of their travel costs to the meeting. Proposals accepted for the Krooss Prize are not eligible for the Kerr Prize. If you wish to apply for this prize please send a cover letter indicating you are applying for the Krooss prize along with a one-page CV and one-page (300 word) dissertation abstract via email to The deadline for proposals for the Krooss prize is 1 October 2018.

The BHC Doctoral Colloquium in Business History will be held in conjunction with the BHC annual meeting. This prestigious workshop, funded by Cambridge University Press, will take place in Cartagena on Wednesday, March 13, and Thursday, March 14. Typically limited to ten students, the colloquium is open to early-stage doctoral candidates pursuing dissertation research within the broad field of business history, from any relevant discipline. Topics (see link for past examples) may range from the early modern era to the present, and explore societies across the globe. Participants work intensively with a distinguished group of BHC-affiliated scholars (including at least two BHC officers), discussing dissertation proposals, relevant literatures and research strategies, and career trajectories. Applications are due by November 1, 2018, via email to and should include: a statement of interest; CV; preliminary or final dissertation prospectus (10-15 pages); and a letter of support from your dissertation supervisor (or prospective supervisor). Questions about the colloquium should be sent to its director, Edward Balleisen, All participants receive a stipend that partially defrays travel costs to the annual meeting.

On the March 14, 2019, there will be a special workshop on ‘Latin American Business in a Global and Historical Perspective’ which will be in the Spanish and Portuguese languages and aims to attract papers by academics who prefer to present their research in their native languages. The deadline for submissions is October 1,  2018. For more details about the workshop and the submission process, contact Joaquin Viloria De la Hoz (Banco de la República / Central Bank of Colombia) at:

Unmaking History

23 04 2018

Leonid Sirota (Auckland University of Technology Law School) has published a great piece on the recent Comeau decision in Canada.

Double Aspect

When it accepted to pronounce on the constitutionality of non-tariff barriers to inter-provincial trade, the Supreme Court had a chance to make history. In R v Comeau, 2018 SCC 15, the Court chose to unmake it instead. Far from “freeing the beer” and invalidating legislation that prevents bringing booze from one province to another and other regulatory schemes built on provincial protectionism, Comeau countenances even restriction on inter-provincial trade that would previously have been thought flatly unconstitutional. In the process, it tramples over constitutional text and history, as well as logic.

Section 121 of the Constitution Act, 1867 provides that “[a]ll Articles of the Growth, Produce, or Manufacture of any one of the Provinces shall, from and after the Union, be admitted free into each of the other Provinces.” But free of what exactly? Of any and all regulation, or of just some particular kinds? In Gold Seal…

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Hot Takes on the Comeau Case

19 04 2018

The Supreme Court of Canada today published its ruling in the case of Her Majesty the Queen v. Gerard Comeau. For press coverage, please see here, here, and here. I was the historical expert witness at the 2015 court case that was the subject of the appeal decided today.  Here is my initial reaction (keep in mind I am a non-lawyer).

Although Mr. Comeau lost, the court accepted much of my historical interpretation (see paragraphs 55 to 66 of their decision). In paragraph 67, the Court expands the meaning of section 121, perhaps not as much as the lawyers I was working with might have wanted, but certainly enough to prohibit all interprovincial trade barriers that are protectionist in intent.


In paragraph 67, the Court wrote:

We conclude that the historical context supports the view that, at a minimum, s. 121 prohibits the imposition of charges on goods crossing provincial boundaries — tariffs and tariff-like measures. At the same time, the historical evidence nowhere suggests that provinces, for example, would lose their power to legislate under s. 92  of the Constitution Act, 1867  for the benefit of their constituents even if that might have impacts on interprovincial trade. The historical evidence, at best, provides only limited support for the view that “admitted free” in s. 121  was meant as an absolute guarantee of trade free of all barriers.

In paragraph 106, the Court wrote:

We conclude that a purposive approach to s. 121  leads to the following conclusion: s. 121 prohibits laws that in essence and purpose restrict trade across provincial boundaries. Laws that only have the incidental effect of restricting trade across provincial boundaries because they are part of broader schemes not aimed at impeding trade do not offend s. 121  because the purpose of such laws is to support the relevant scheme, not to restrict interprovincial trade.

It seems to me that this interpretation of s.121 is very similar to the High Court of Australia’s ruling in the 1988 case of Cole v. Whitfield, which revolved around the interpretation of Section 92 of the Australian constitution, which provides for free trade between Australia’s states. (For a comparison of these parts of the Canadian and Australian constitutions, see here). That case involved a fisherman who broke a state environmental law when he imported crabs from another Australian state. The crabs in question were of legal size in the originating state but illegal in size in his home state. The fisherman’s lawyers argued that the state law, which had been intended to protect the crab population, was a protectionist and unconstitutional trade barrier. In this decision, the court ruled that the Australian constitution prohibited only those barriers to interstate commerce that had either a protectionist purpose or effect. Australian courts now apply the so-called “Cole v. Whitfield test” in judging section 92 cases. As in today’s Supreme Court ruling, the Australian court decided that purpose of the law restricting internal trade was crucial in deciding its constitutionality.


Turning back to today’s SCC decision, I was pleased that the Court accepted the view that research on historical context similar to that I provided in my 2015 expert testimony is helpful in interpreting the meaning of the constitution. The Court made an interesting and important point about the role of historical research in constitutional interpretation: it ruled that while historical information of the type I shared was not, by itself, enough to overturn an existing SCC decision, it does matter. In a sense, this part of the ruling was a victory for advocates of some variant of the interpretative doctrine called originalism.

I must say that it was an honour to have worked in the case with a fantastic group of lawyers.


The Impress of the Past on Entrepreneurial Cognition

17 04 2018

Image Source: By JimmyGuano – Newcastle-upon-Tyne-bridges-and-skyline.jpg, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Come hear me present in Newcastle!

I’ll be presenting about my research on how entrepreneurs use history at Newcastle Business School (CCE1, Room 223A), on Wednesday 25th April 2018
17:00 – 18:00

The title of my paper is The Impress of the Past on Entrepreneurial Cognition by Andrew Smith (University of Liverpool) and Jennifer Johns (University of Bristol).



The existing literature gives us only a limited understanding of how entrepreneurs use analogical reasoning. This paper explores how entrepreneurs use historical analogy to recognize opportunities and to evaluate how to exploit them. We document this use of historical analogy through interview research with the users of a set of novel production technologies. The empirical basis of the paper is a FabLab, a digital makerspace. We integrate Paul Ricœur’s insights into the use of historical knowledge into existing scholarly debates about the place of analogical reasoning in entrepreneurial cognition. We find that the entrepreneurs use historical analogy to discuss entrepreneurial opportunities and their use of historical analogy differs according to their technical capabilities. We identify implications for entrepreneurship researchers and for practitioners.

Comeau Case Decision

16 04 2018

On 19 April, the Supreme Court of Canada will announce its decision in the constitutional case of the Queen v. Comeau, which deals with the legitimacy of interprovincial trade barriers in Canada. As long time readers of this blog will know, I was the expert witness who testified at the 2015 lower court case that was the basis of the appeal now being considered by the Supreme Court.

Here is a backgrounder for people outside of Canada.

Canada’s subnational governments, the provinces, impose many restrictions on interprovincial trade that are protectionist in intent and effect. (Canada isn’t the only country to have such internal trade barrier—see here for a gateway into the academic literature on this subject).  Canada’s internal trade barriers appear to conflict with section 121 of the 1867 Canadian constitution, which explicitly provides for free trade between Canadian provinces. This constitution is the British North America Act, 1867 (UK), which was retroactively renamed the Constitution Act, 1867 by the Constitution Act, 1982 . [Most academic historians continue to refer to the text by its historical name]. Since I wrote a PhD thesis and book on the political economy of the 1867 constitution, I am considered to be well qualified to speak about the motivations of the creators of section 121. You can read the expert witness report I wrote for the Comeau case here.

I believe that section 121 was included in the Canadian constitution because the framers of this document wanted the new Dominion of Canada to be a single market without fetters on interprovincial trade. These framers included the Fathers of Confederation- a group of British North American politicians- as well some senior British politicians (especially the Earl of Carnarvon but also Adderley, Watkin, and others), and a handful of very accomplished civil servants and lawyers in London.

150 years later, trade barriers are still in place. For those who don’t wish to read my entire expert witness report, this 2015 CBC article gives a summary of the views I presented in “The Historical Origins of Section 121 of the British North America Act: a Study of Confederation’s Political, Social, and Economic Context



Moving Towards Open Data in Business History

13 04 2018

I have long been an advocate of Open Data and of the adoption of an Open Data norm in the field of business history. I recently published a paper in the journal Business History that outlines why our field needs to adopt Open Data and a system called Active Citation. What Open Data would mean in practice is that whenever a business historian cites a primary source (e.g., a letter in an archive or an article in a historic newspaper), the footnote must include a hyperlink to a scanned image of the document. This system would have a number of advantages. First, it would accelerate the digitization of primary sources and once a primary source has been put online for one purpose, it can be re-used by another researcher. Moreover, the creation of an Open Data rule in business history would be yet another victory for the research transparency movement. In the last half decade, a variety of academic disciplines have embraced research transparency and Open Data is a big part of the research transparency movement.  The requirement that raw data be published alongside the article based on that data is designed to counteract the impression that researchers sometimes use data selectively or in an otherwise unprincipled way.


Although the impetus for research transparency and Open Data has come largely from academics concerned about data mis-representation, the movement has been able to make so much progress in recent years because it has had a backer with deep pockets, the philanthropist John Arnold. Arnold was recently profiled in Wired magazine. I would encourage anyone interested in Open Data and Research Transparency to check out this article.

In view of the importance of Open Data to the future of the field of business history, it is exciting to see that an increasing number of business-historical data sources are being made freely available online.

I see from The Exchange, the blog of the Business History Conference, that The Newberry Library in Chicago has announced a major revision to its policy regarding the re-use of collection images: “images derived from collection items are now available to anyone for any lawful purpose, whether commercial or non-commercial, without licensing or permission fees to the library.”

This reform to the Newberry Library’s rule would certainly help to make it easier for researchers who based papers on materials in their collection to use Open Data in their papers. I would like to congratulate the Newberry Library on their wise decision and would like to encourage other repositories of business historical materials to follow this example whenever they are legally allowed to do so.