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.

150 Years of Canadian Business History Conference

8 09 2017



On Tuesday, I will be presenting a paper at the 150 Years of Canadian Business History Conference at the Rotman School of Management in Toronto.  I have upload both the program/brochure for the whole event plus a draft of my own paper, “Business and Multiculturalism: a Possible Master Narrative for Canadian Business History

Abstract: Researchers from across the social sciences, and in several management disciplines, are now increasingly interested in the role of business in promoting the peaceful coexistence of ethnocultural groups. Today, Canada is an outstanding example of harmonious ethnic diversity. Business played an important role in the emergence of this successful society. The newly renascent field of Canadian business history is in need of theoretically informed master narratives if it is to continue to grow. This paper proposes that the study of the role of business in the emergence of multicultural Canada be one of the organizing themes for the field of Canadian business history.

I would like to thank the organizers for their very hard work in arranging this conference. A major thanks to the donors who made it possible to cover the costs of presenters.

Canadian Business History Speaker Series @ Rotman

24 01 2012

DISCUSSION TOPIC: Canada`s Entrepreneurs From the Fur Trade to the 1929 Stock Market Crash

Thursday, January 26, 2012
4:30-5:00 registration/book sale;
5:00 sharp to 6:15 discussion:
6:15-6:30 book sale/signing

Rotman School of Management
105 St. George Street, Toronto, CIBC Room (third ground)

J. Andrew Ross, Postdoctoral Fellow – History, University of Guelph; Co-Editor, Canada’s Entrepreneurs
John English, General Editor , Dictionary of Canadian Biography; Distinguished Senior Fellow, Massey College, U of Toronto
Marc Vallieres, Business Historian, Laval University
David Roberts, Editor Emeritus, Dictionary of Canadian Biography

MODERATOR:Joseph Martin, Director of Canadian Business History, Adjunct Professor of Business Strategy and Executive in Residence, Rotman School of Management, U of Toronto

BOOKSALE:additional copies of Canada’s Entrepreneurs will be available for sale at the event