The Value of Teaching Business History to Management Students: a Donor Perspective

20 12 2017

My fellow business historians in management schools have published about why business history ought to be part of the management school curriculum (see the recent paper by Perchard et al.). Today, I’m sharing a different perspective on the same subject, namely, a donor point of view. In this video, Lynton ‘Red’ Wilson, a Canadian philanthropist, reflects on the nature of business history and how historical knowledge allowed him to improve his decision-making during his business career, which included stints leading Redpath Industries Ltd, a sugar refiner, and BCE Inc., the country’s largest telco. To illustrate the value of history to managers, he shared an anecdote about a joint venture in Thailand in which historical knowledge was useful to him. He also spoke about why he joined with five other philanthropists to endow the L.R. Wilson/R.J. Currie Chair in Canadian Business History at Rotman.

The other donors who helped to create the chair were Anthony Fell, chairman of RBC Capital Markets; James Fleck, founder of Fleck Manufacturing Inc., the philanthropist Henry N.R. (Hal) Jackman; and John H. McArthur, dean emeritus of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Business Administration.

As readers of this blog will know, the chair was held by Chris Kobrak from 2012 until his sudden death. The future of the chair continues to be considered.