My Panel Selections for the ABH Conference

28 06 2013

Over the next couple of days, I’ll be presenting at/attending the Association of Business Historians Conference in Preston, Lancashire. The conference has parallel sessions, which has forced me to make some hard choices about which papers to go and hear. Here are my choices:
Friday, 28 June

Session I-B: History of Banks and Banking in the 20th Century (GR 202)
Chair: Billy Frank, University of Central Lancashire

Bernardo Batiz-Lazo, University of Bangor: “Cash and Dash: ATMs and the construction of today’s retail payments ecosystem”

Qing Lu, University of Hull: “Subsidiary Competitive Advantages, Parent Company
Management Structure and Post-acquisition Integration of HSBC with Mercantile Bank,

Scott Taylor and Alan McKinlay, “Strategy, Technology and Gender: Making and Unmaking the Marriage Bar in British Banking, c. 1900-1970”

Session II-B: Decision-Making in British Transportation (GR Lecture Theatre)

Chair: Terry Gourvish, London School of Economics

Roy Edwards, University of Southampton: “The Ministry of Transport and the British
Railways: Conceptualising the Business Model for Freight Transport c1919 – 1947”

Kevin Tennent and David Turner, University of York: “Management and Competitive
Advantage in the public transport industry – London County Council Tramways 1899-

David Turner, University of York: “Decision-making in the private railway industry – the
quality of management on the London and South Western Railway 1870-1911”

Session III-A: The Company as the Unit of Analysis in Business History: Cadburys (GR

Chair: John Quail, University of York

Emma Robertson, LaTrobe University: “‘The sun never sets on the Cadbury and Fry
flags…’: Manufacturing work, place and gender in empire subsidiaries, 1920-1960”

Vaughn White, University of York: “The Introduction and Development of Costing within
the UK Confectionery Industry: The Experience of Cadbury 1899-1914”

18:00 – 19:00 Drinks Reception, Greenbank Foyer (supported by Taylor & Francis

19:00 – 20:00 Break
20:00 – 22:00 Conference dinner (Tino’s Restaurant)

Saturday, 29 JUNE

Session IV-B: Mass Media (GR 350)

Chair: Mitch Larson, University of Central Lancashire

Candan Celik-Elmer and Mitch Larson, University of Central Lancashire: “Changing Values in American Magazine Advertisements, 1965-2005”

Howard Cox, Worcester College Oxford, and Simon Mowatt, Auckland University of
Technology: “Machinations in Fleet Street: Roy Thomson, Cecil King, and the creation of
a magazine monopoly”

Peter Miskell, University of Reading, and Marina Nicoli, Bocconi University: “For a Few
Dollars More: Film Distribution in Italy, 1958-1971”

Session V-A: British Business Overseas in the 20th Century (GR 347)

Chair: Rory Miller, University of Liverpool

Philip Garnett, University of Durham, Simon Mollan, University of Liverpool, and Kevin

Tennent, University of York: “The Transitory Period in British International Business,
1950-1980: Evidence from the British Overseas Mining Sector”

Andrew Smith, Coventry University: “Delayering the Workforce: HSBC in the 1960s”

Rory Miller, University of Liverpool: “British Merchants on the West Coast of South
America in the Inter-War Period: Growth, Survival and Failure”

Session VI-B: 20th Century British Business History (GR 350)

Chair: Simon Mollan, University of Liverpool

Mark Billings and Lynne Oats, University of Exeter: “Designing a business tax: Excess
Profits Duty in the United Kingdom in World War One”

Julie Bower, University of Birmingham, and Howard Cox, Worcester College Oxford:
“Whitbread, the Whitbread Investment Company and protection from hostile bids”

Stephen Sambrook and Ray Stokes, University of Glasgow: “Bringing rubbish into business

Session VII-B: British Empire and Business (GR 347)

Chair: Stephen Sambrook, University of Glasgow

Billy Frank, University of Central Lancashire: “‘Banking on Empire’: Decisions and
Decision Makers in Britain’s Post-War Colonial Development Planning, 1939–1954”

Timo Särkkä, University of Jyväskylä: “The British paper trade and market regulation: from free trade Empire to the Common Market, 1861–1960”

Vikram Visana, University of Cambridge: “Banks, Bonds, and Business: The Economic
Thought of Dadabhai Naoroji”
Shakila Yacob, University of Malaya, and Nick White, Liverpool John Moores University:
“Malaysianisation and the British family-run business: the case of the Barlow Group in
the 1970s and 1980s”

Due to a timetable clash, I won’t be able to listen to the following presentation, despite its intriguing title:

John Quail, University of York: “Why did US Corporations have Presidents while UK
Corporations did not – and does it matter?”

2013 Coleman Prize

6 02 2013

The Association of Business Historians invites submissions for consideration for the
2013 Coleman Prize. This prestigious prize is open to PhD dissertations in Business
History either having a British subject or completed at a British University. All
dissertations completed in the calendar years 2011 and 2012 are eligible (with the
exception of previous submissions). The value of the prize is £250. Named in honour
of the British Business Historian Donald Coleman, this prize is awarded annually by
the Association of Business Historians to recognise excellence in new research in
Britain. The Prize is sponsored by the Taylor & Francis Group, a scholarly publisher
which makes available original manuscript collections, rare printed books and other
primary source materials in microform and electronic format. It is a condition of
eligibility for the Prize that short-listed finalists present their findings at the
Association’s annual conference, to be held at the Lancashire Business School,
Preston, UK. For more information see here.


Please note that the deadline for submission of entries for the 2013 Coleman Prize for PhD dissertation has now been extended to 28.02.13. We particularly encourage PhD students who have successfully completed in 2012 to apply. If you are aware of recent PhDs who are not members of ABH but are eligible we would be grateful if you bring this opportunity to their attention. Details of the competition are in the attachment.

Papers on Canadian Historical Topics at ABH 2012

11 04 2012

The Association of Business Historians is the leading organization of business historians in the United Kingdom. Most of the presenters are based in Britain, although every year academics from the United States, continental Europe, and elsewhere attend.

It seems to me that people outside of Canada don’t pay that enough attention to Canadian business history. Non-Canadians may be quite right to ignore, say, the history of theatre in Canada or Canadian military history, since those aren’t really activities for which Canada is known. But Canada has long punched above its weight in business matters and there are all sorts of interesting lessons that can be drawn from studying the Canadian business experience. Environmental history is another area where the relevance of Canada to international historians is also disproportionate.

I was therefore quite pleased to see that two people will be presenting on Canadian topics at the 2012 meeting.

The Significance of Imported Technology for Economic Development: The Canadian Case- Bruce Smardon, York University

Medical Risk vs. Financial Reward: Corporate Social Responsibility in the Global Asbestos Trade, 1930-1977- Jessica van Horssen, McGill University

For the entire provisional programme, see here.

P.S. Jessica, an environmental historian who is currently doing a postdoc at McGill, is quite skilled at disseminating her research to non-academic audiences using new technologies. She has created an online graphic novel based on her dissertation about the environmental and social history of the town of Asbestos, Quebec. (See here).

She has also created a number of YouTube videos about her research findings. I’ve put a link to episode one below:

CFP: Canadian Business History

19 01 2012

I’m organizing a panel on Canadian business history for a conference that will take place in Birmingham, UK 6-7 July 2012.  This call for papers is directed at all historians of Canadian business and to environmental historians. 

The Association of Business Historians is an organization of business historians in the United Kingdom. About a hundred academics attend their annual conference. Roughly a third of the presenters are from the discipline of history, another third are economists, and the final third are in other disciplines (strategy, international business, human resource management etc).  The presenters range from really senior scholars to postgraduate students. Most of the presenters are based in Britain, although every year academics from the United States, continental Europe, and elsewhere attend.

Many presenters say that the feedback at this conference is very rigorous precisely because the audience is so interdisciplinary and international. I would tend to agree with this assessment.  Presenting a paper at this conference can help one to deal in advance with the criticisms an article might encounter when it undergoes peer review by people in different disciplines.  

I would like to organize a panel on Canadian business history for the next ABH conference, which will take place at Aston Business School, Friday 6th – Saturday 7th July 2012. (Aston Business School is in Birmingham). If you have research that you would like to present at an international conference, please contact me right away.

The theme of the 2012 ABH is “Decisions Makers and Decision Making”. I suspect that papers on business and the environment and/or the history of Corporate Social Responsibility would be welcomed by the conference organizers. In fact, I would really, really encourage Canadian environmental historians who are looking at corporations and the environment to get in touch with me. Of course, any business historical topic would be acceptable as well.   

The deadline for submissions is 31st January 2012. Unfortunately, the ABH wouldn’t be able to provide travel funding, but if you have other reasons for coming to the UK, you should consider being part of this panel. 

I’m certain that the ABH organizers would also welcome individual paper proposals from Canadians who don’t want to be part of this particular panel. 

Association of Business Historians

6 04 2011

The Association of Business Historians will hold its annual meeting in association with the Centre for International Business History at the University of Reading on July 1-2, 2011. The programme was recently put online.

I’m going to be presenting on credit-rating in Canada during the American Civil War. In fact, I’m currently at Harvard doing some research on this topic.