Engineering Rules

1 07 2019

JoAnne Yates, MIT Sloan professor and big name in the field of Business History has published an important new (and co-authored) book “Engineering Rules,” which is about the efforts of voluntary bodies over the last century and a half to set global engineering standards. Today we take the existence of such standards (e.g., USB keys) for granted and we tend not to realise how important they are to global business. The book, which she co-authored with the political scientist Craig Murphy, explores how this came about. Yates is the Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management at MIT. She is the author of Control through Communication: The Rise of System in American Management and Structuring the Information Age: Life Insurance and Technology in the Twentieth Century.

The MIT Sloan Review has published a nice description of her book, which I have now ordered. The book will interest business historians such as myself, not to mention scholars of international political economy and academics who use Elinor Ostrom’s ideas to think about the relationship between emergent order and planned orders.

Workshop on the history of investment diplomacy

28 06 2019

Stephanie Decker has posted a summary of an interesting workshop on the history of investment diplomacy that recently took place in London’s Goodenough College, a residential college in London.  The workshop sounds very interesting and the venue was perfect, since Goodenough College is named after a benefactor, Sir William Goodenough, whose career at Barclays Bank perfectly illustrates the relationship between imperialism and the protection of investment. Goodenough’s imperial career inspired him to support an Oxbridge-style residential college in London that would provide a home to postgraduate students from the Empire-Commonwealth. (Today, Goodenough College welcomes students from non-Commonwealth countries as well).

Anyway, you can read a description of the workshop here Workshop on the history of investment diplomacy

New Paper on How Firms Use History

26 06 2019

Paresha N. Sinha, Peter Jaskiewicz, Jenny Gibb, and James G. Combs. “Managing history: How New Zealand’s Gallagher Group used rhetorical narratives to reprioritize and modify imprinted strategic guideposts.” Strategic Management Journal.


Research Summary
Imprinting theory predicts that organizations are imprinted with multiple intersecting imprints that persist. Evidence suggests, however, that imprints are sometimes reprioritized or modified, implying that they can be strategically managed. We draw upon rhetorical history research and an in‐depth historical case study of New Zealand’s Gallagher Group to describe how one firm managed its imprints. Our inductive theorizing links historically imprinted strategic guideposts to decision‐making via two rearranging processes—that is, prioritizing and suspending—wherein managers use narratives to rearrange guideposts’ influence and two scope modifying processes—that is, constraining and expanding—wherein managers change where guideposts apply. As a first explanation of how imprints are managed, these processes add nuance to existing theory and open new research avenues regarding additional processes and boundary conditions.

Managerial Summary
Imprints are elements of culture, strategy, structure, or decision‐making that emerge when the firm is founded or during times of turmoil. Imprints resist change and make organizational adaptation difficult. This study explains one way that managers manipulate imprinted decision‐making rules so that organizations can adapt. Using an in‐depth historical case study of New Zealand’s Gallagher Group from 1938 to 2015, we follow four imprinted decision‐making rules that we call strategic guideposts and show how managers rhetorically revised these rules to adapt organizational decision‐making to changing environments. Managers prioritized some decision‐making rules while deemphasizing others or they changed their claims about the kinds of decisions where a decision‐rule applied. Knowing these rhetorical processes can help managers leverage their organization’s history to facilitate necessary organizational change.


You can access the paper here. You can download the supporting documentation here.

The New Enlightenment: Reshaping Capitalism and the Global Order in an Neo Mercantilist World

24 06 2019


As have the philosophers, we social scientists have long been interested trying to reconcile the ideas Adam Smith presented The Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS) with the principles established in The Wealth of Nations (WN). I have long felt that trying to balance or blend the principles in these two books is essential to our collective well-being  and one’s happiness as an individual living in a capitalist democracy. Smith’s ideas about economic nationalism, cosmopolitanism, and the moral aspects of the world-wide web of economic linkages that connect individuals and firms in different countries appear to be more relevant than ever, especially in light of the rise of anti-globalization populism.


In early July, Adam Smith’s Edinburgh house, Panmure, which now belongs to Edinburgh business school, will be the venue for an important interdisciplinary conference on “The New Enlightenment: Reshaping Capitalism and the Global Order in an Neo Mercantilist World.” The organizers of this conference, who include the great business thinker David Teece hope that this conference will  bring together action-oriented scholars, policy makers, and practitioners. The distinguished scholars who will be speaking at the conference include the management academics Jay Barney and Peter G. Klein, the economist Jon Kay, and such historians at Harold JamesBarry Eichengreen, and Niall Ferguson as well as some very distinguished practitioners and financial journalists. Practical details of the conference are here. The call to arms (theoretical document) describing the goals of the conference is available here.

Based on the call to arms document, I strongly suspect that shareholder value ideology (otherwise known as the doctrine of shareholder primacy) will be discussed at the conference. That document reads:

To the extent that current corporate law is viewed as imposing a legal duty to maximize (short-term) shareholder value, then it is inconsistent with Smith’s view of sustainable forms of capitalism. The imperative is now stronger than ever to read TMS and WN together. While some scholars see these as separate and contradictory theories, it’s hard to imagine that Smith  himself saw it that way. Both treatises have in common deep and prescient observations of society and the behavior of individuals. TMS, in particular, anticipates modern work in behavioral economics.

I’m very glad that that pros and cons of shareholder primacy will be discussed at this conference, as I’ve been convinced that this doctrine is corrosive to the long-term interests of capitalism as a system. About four decades ago, the doctrine of shareholder primacy was re-installed in the source code of Anglo-American capitalism and the results have not, in my view, been pretty. I know that some of the people attending this conference have, as I have, been heavily influenced by Hayek, an author who wrote eloquent defences of capitalism even though he did not accept shareholder primacy.  One of the intellectual puzzles that interests me is figuring out whether one can be sympathetic to Austrian economics and hostile to shareholder primacy at the same time. After careful reflection, I’ve decided that one can reconcile the two and that it is actually very important for society that we do so.

I would like to thank the conference organizers for inviting me to this august event. I also want to thank the various sponsors who are covering the costs of the conference.


Interesting Session on Historical Research at the Academy of Management

19 06 2019

Session Type: Symposium
Program Session: 1675 | Submission: 11526 | Sponsor(s): (OMT)
Scheduled: Tuesday, Aug 13 2019 8:00AM – 9:30AM at Boston Hynes Convention Center in 103

Advancing New Understandings of History in the Management Field
Advancing New Understandings of History PracticeInternationalResearch

View Map
Kunyuan Qiao, Cornell U.
Christopher Marquis, Cornell U.
Joerg Sydow, Freie U. Berlin
Florian Stache, Freie U. Berlin
Christopher W. J. Steele, U. of Alberta
Milo Shaoqing Wang, U. of Alberta
Paul Ingram, Columbia U.
Brian Silverman, U. of Toronto
Rodolphe Durand, HEC Paris
Andrew Sarta, Ivey Business School
Jean-Philippe Vergne, Ivey Business School
Howard Aldrich, U. of North Carolina

Scholars in the management field have been increasingly interested in how historical factors and processes affect current organizational behaviors and have called for a fuller integration of a historical perspective into organization and management theory. This symposium brings together a diverse set of papers that explore different ways through which history affects the present and provide implications for future research and practice. Specifically, the first paper extends path dependence theory by proposing a model of path-breaking organizational change and elaborating how paths can change. The second paper illustrates how the institutional logics perspective can help better integrate history into organizational research via historical contextualization, recognition of the constitutive power of history and histories, and a focus on how history-making is itself historically situated. The third paper develops the concept of moral cover in network research and applies history-based research methods to issues of strategy and organization. The fourth article reviews and reconceptualizes adaptation as a typical way to leverage history. The last article builds a more systematic understanding of how history matters by developing a typology that includes two types of historical formation conditions and three types of subsequent evolutionary processes. As a set, the papers offer new insights into how organization and management theories are affected by historical processes and shed new light on management history research.

Breaking a Path by Creating a New One–Insights from a Healthcare Setting
Joerg Sydow, Freie U. Berlin
Florian Stache, Freie U. Berlin

The Logics of History, and the Historicity of Logics
Christopher W. J. Steele, U. of Alberta
Milo Shaoqing Wang, U. of Alberta

Friends in the Right Places: The Influence of Slave-Trading Quakers on Network Partners (1750-1807)
Paul Ingram, Columbia U.
Brian Silverman, U. of Toronto

Reset: Stock-Taking and Rethinking Organizational Adaptation as Congruence
Rodolphe Durand, HEC Paris
Andrew Sarta, Ivey Business School
Jean-philippe Vergne, Ivey Business School

How History Matters
View Sessions for this Participant Presenter: Christopher Marquis, Cornell U.
View Sessions for this Participant Presenter: Kunyuan Qiao, Cornell U.

My Sessions at the Academy of Management 2019

13 06 2019



Entrepreneurship and History

Entrepreneurship and History Research Session Type: PDW Workshop. Program Session: 136 | Submission: 18205 | Sponsor(s): (ENT, MH) Scheduled: Friday, Aug 9 2019 12:00PM – 2:00PM at Boston Marriott Copley Place in Grand Ballroom Salon IJK

Chair: Trevor Lyle Israelsen, U. of Victoria (PhD Student)

Participant: David A. Kirsch, U. of Maryland

Participant: Christina Lubinski, Copenhagen Business School

Participant: Rob Mitchell, Colorado State U.

Participant: Daniel Raff, The Wharton School, U. of Pennsylvania

Participant: Andrew D A Smith, U. of Liverpool

Participant: Daniel Wadhwani, U. of the Pacific

Participant: Ricardo Zozimo, Lancaster U.

History and entrepreneurship are intertwined in multiple, fundamental ways. Recent scholarship has established this connection across a range of topics, modes of inquiry, and as a means for contribution to theory. Here we draw attention to two critical questions requiring additional exploration at the intersection of entrepreneurship and history. First, what constitutes rigorous historical explanation in the context of entrepreneurship? And second, what is the relationship between history and ongoing entrepreneurial processes? To facilitate a collective discussion of these two topics, we bring together leading scholars from a variety of traditions ranging from economics to cultural history and from the history of technological innovation to historical cognition to help stimulate a dialogue with workshop attendees regarding these two critical questions at the intersection between the historiographic tradition and modern social-science-based entrepreneurial studies. The PDW culminates in an activity in which attendees generate and refine research questions and ideas to address these two problems.



Personalities, Their Foibles and Organizations


Session Type: Paper Session. Program Session: 890 | Submission: 20295 | Sponsor(s): (MH) Scheduled: Monday, Aug 12 2019 8:00AM – 9:30AM at Boston Marriott Copley Place in Yarmouth


Discussant: Jeffrey Muldoon, Emporia State U.


MH: Performing Intersection Identity Work Over Time; Historic Case of Viola Turner

Authors: Madison Portie Williamson, Hiscox Insurance ; David Ross Marshall, U. of Dayton; Milorad Novicevic, U. of Mississippi; Albert J. Mills, Saint Mary’s U., Canada/U. of Eastern Finland; Caleb Lugar, U. of Mississippi

Through the analysis of an exemplary historic case, we show how an individual alters their underlying moral foundations in order to align them to intersecting identities and changing social contexts over time. Using computer aided text analysis software, we analyze interviews conducted with Ms. Viola Turner, an African-American insurance executive in the early 1900’s. We find that Turner consistently adapted her configuration of moral foundations to her intersecting identities most prevalent and useful at each given time period. In this way, we shed light on how people perform intersection identity work over time.



Best Paper MH: Mayo’s Beacon: How Hawthorne, Logical Positivism, and Psychology Shaped Social Exchange Theory

Author: Jeffrey Muldoon, Emporia State U; Yaron J. Zoller, Lakeland U.

John F. Mee Award for Paper with the Best Management History Division Contribution

Social exchange theory (SET) by Homans (1958) is one of the most researched, validated, and influential theories in the field of sociology. This paper provides a historical review to trace the disciplines, scholars, organizations, studies, and research methodologies that influenced Homans in creating SET. In addition, it investigates the mostly ignored role of the Hawthorne studies and Elton Mayo in shaping the development of SET. Our contention was that Homans, through the use of various methods, sought to explain how spontaneous cooperation emerged in groups. This goal was set early by Elton Mayo.



MH: Coming Together after a Tragedy – How the S.S. Eastland Disaster of 1915 Helped Shape Hawthorne Theme-oriented

Author: Yaron J. Zoller, Lakeland U; Jeffrey Muldoon, Emporia State U.

By conducting an historical study of the social conditions of the community of employees at Hawthorne Works before and after the S.S. Eastland disaster of 1915, this paper argues that the Eastland disaster resulted in expanding welfare capitalism practices by Western Electric in the 1920s-1930s and establishing the social and communal conditions which made the Hawthorne Studies (1924-1933) possible. The Eastland disaster likely steered Western Electric towards expanding its practice of welfare capitalism, a forerunner to the Human-Relations school of management, and taking a more humanistic approach. Expansion of welfare capitalism by Western Electric was partially designed to take advantage of the cultural and ethnic isolation of the community and to deflect attention from Western Electric’s involvement in the Eastland disaster. Linking the Eastland disaster and the Hawthorne Studies can help explain the importance of trust development during the famous studies.



MH: The Creation and Decline of an Ethics-Driven Market Category: The Case of Free-Grown Sugar International-oriented Research-oriented

Author: Andrew D A Smith, U. of Liverpool; Jennifer Johns, U. of Bristol

This paper uses a historical case study to integrate the theoretical work on category creation (Durand and Khaire, 2017) with the management research on the ethics of slavery. It documents the rise and fall of the ethics-driven market category of “freegrown sugar”. Between 1790 and 1890, the United Kingdom imported sugar produced by slaves and sugar that had been produced by free labourers. The market category of free-grown sugar existed during the first fifty years of this period, enabling consumers who were opposed to slavery to pay a premium for a more ethical product. After circa 1840, this market category disappeared, even though considerable quantities of slavegrown sugar continued to arrive into the UK. Our paper makes a number of theoretical contributions, including the introduction to the business-ethics literature of the concept of the ethics-driven market category. Our research also challenges the linearprogressive historical metanarrative that many business ethics scholars use to interpret data. The paper also refines our understanding of category creation and category disappearance. In addition to making these theoretical contributions, our research findings will be of interest to scholars of Modern Slavery and to social activists who seek to eradicate forced labour from the economy.



Corporations across the World

Session Type: Paper Session Program Session: 1771 | Submission: 20296 | Sponsor(s): (MH) Scheduled: Tuesday, Aug 13 2019 9:45AM – 11:15AM at Boston Marriott Copley Place in Yarmouth


Chair: Jay J. Janney, U. of Dayton


MH: Are Corporate Governance Theories Relevant to the History and Long- Term Survival of Catholic Orders?

Author: Peter Wirtz, U. Jean Moulin Lyon III

Despite extensive research efforts, the causal link between various corporate governance practices and the long-term performance and survival of organizations is still largely unexplored. Various theoretical approaches aim at explaining a governance system’s influence on organizational performance and sustainability over the long run, but few contemporaneous corporate organizations have experienced long enough lifespans to examine the underliyng assumtions consistently in a sound and consistent empirical setting. Catholic orders are among the oldest still existing organizations and hence present a unique opportunity to test theoretical assumptions about governance systems’ capacity to influence long- term survival. This paper presents a structured inventory of the current state of research on the form and functions of the governance systems of three old Catholic orders (namely the Benedictines, Dominicans, and Jesuits) in historical perspective and confirms the relevance of this kind of approach.



MH: Corporate Archives, History-as-Sensemaking: Evidence from Banking International-oriented Research-oriented

Author: Andrew D A Smith, U. of Liverpool; Wim Van Lent, Montpellier Business School; Ian Jones, U. of Liverpool

The emerging literature on how organizations use history focuses mainly on the rhetorical use of strategy to give sense to stakeholders, neglecting history’s potential for strategic sense- making. This study employs a unique combination of qualitative and quantitative data about archival usage by senior decision-makers at Barclays Bank during the Global Financial Crisis. The analysis demonstrates how history was used for both sense-giving and sense- making and that these practices eventually improved financial performance. Our findings enrich the theoretical foundation of the “Uses of the Past” literature and reinforce an agent-based approach to the role of history in strategy. We discuss the implications of our research for researchers, managers, and management educators in the conclusion of the paper.



MH: Trademarks and Competitiveness in the Global Ugg Boot Industry, 1979- 2017 International-oriented

Author: Amanda Budde-Sung, U. Of Sydney

Journal of Management History Award for Best International Paper

When intellectual property (IP) is covered in the international business literature, it usually focuses on competitive advantages conferred upon a firm or industry by new technology. Less discussed is the historical role of intellectual property, particularly when the intellectual property giving the competitive advantage is not new. This study considers the impact on competitive advantage of culturally distinctive, but not new, IP through the lens of the Australia-US battle over the UGG boot trademark. Court documents and trademark applications from 1984 to 2017 indicate that Australian firms underestimated the cultural differences between the US and Australia, and thus failed to adequately protect the generic word “ugg” in foreign markets where it was considered to be distinctive, rather than generic. The in-depth analysis of the development of the UGG brand highlights the importance of intangible barriers in global business. The impact on the competitive advantage these intangible barriers gave US firms over Australian firms in the worldwide sheepskin boot market is discussed.



MH: Following the Old Road: Organizational Imprinting and Regional Development of Russia

Author: Nooa Nykänen, U. of Jyväskylä

Russia’s strategy for regional development has taken an authoritarian direction during the recent decades, despite simultaneous pressures to modernize economic structures and generate innovative growth in regional agglomerations. In this paper, I study the impact of historical and organizational imprinting within Russian economic geography on the contemporary forms of regional policy, highlighting specifically the paradigmatic and path- dependent role of Soviet regional economic system, based on territorial-production complexes (TPCs). Analysis based on the dynamics within framework of imprinting suggest that the TPC model presents a cognitive institutional paragon for contemporary Russian decision-makers in administrating regional development. The results contribute to the literature of socialist imprints by demonstrating how imprints may influence organizational communities and invoke features of socialist economic management in contemporary regional strategies.



MH: Self-Help or Vassal? State Ideology and Discursive Legitimization of Turkish Cooperatives, 1934-1960 International-oriented Research-oriented

Author: Cemil Ozan Soydemir, Istanbul Technical U;   Mehmet Ercek, Istanbul Technical U.

The emergence of cooperatives as distinct economic forms has been associated with either social movements or with entrepreneurial works of local elites. The aim of this study is to unveil how cooperative forms emerge in the Turkish setting and to question the role of the state in the initial constitution and subsequent legitimization of cooperative forms. Contrary to the existing literature, this study revealed that the Turkish state constituted and instrumentally used cooperatives as an extension of its apparatus to legitimize its ideology. Shifts in the external conditions required the state to configure new cooperative forms and delegitimize or silence existing forms. Besides, alteration of the state ideology also resulted in the inception of new forms and modification of the existing ones. The use of rhetorics, frames and narratives in the discursive legitimation of each form varied as contextual and temporal conditions unfolded.

Historical Geographies of Interdisciplinarity: McGill University’s Caribbean Project

11 06 2019

AS: I’m pleased to announce that a paper of which I was a co-author has been published.

“Historical Geographies of Interdisciplinarity: McGill University’s Caribbean Project” Kirsten Greer (Nipissing University), Katie Hemsworth (Nipissing University), Matthew Farish (University of Toronto), Andrew Smith (University of Liverpool).
Historical Geography  Volume 46, 2018 pp. 48-78

Scholars working on global environmental change research are increasingly seeing the value of collaborating on projects involving methodologies in the geophysical sciences and humanities to solve environmental problems such as climate change, soil erosion, and loss of biodiversity. Largely missing from these works, however, are histories of what might be considered earlier interdisciplinary scholarship by physical and human geographers, which are valuable for thinking about what it means to practice the interdisciplinary study of the environment. The purpose of this paper is to examine the understudied history of McGill University’s Caribbean Project of the 1950s and 1960s, to consider what it might tell us about the histories of interdisciplinarity in (geographical) research. We seek to broaden understandings about the very nature of interdisciplinarity, including what may be called early exercises in critical physical geography, through an examination of this small but important and enduring Canadian program located in Barbados with its own complex historical geographies. Focusing on a few instrumental scholars involved in the Barbados project—including the climatologist Kenneth Hare, the cultural geographer Theo Hills, and the biogeographer David Watts—our contribution draws on primary materials (correspondence, reports, memoranda, and research site plans) obtained through the McGill University Archives and the Bancroft Library at Berkeley University, as well as close readings of McGill Geography’s digitized Climatological Bulletins (1967–93), Climatological Research Series, and student theses and dissertations. We conclude by suggesting possible ways forward for future interdisciplinary research on this and other projects, involving physical and human geographers and historians as well as local participants.