MOH SI: Imperialism & Coloniality in MOH

Management & Organizational History

Special issue call for papers:

Imperialism and Coloniality in Management and Organization History

Deadline: 16 December 2016

Management & Organizational History

The ongoing dialogue about the role that history can play in the formation of organization theory, and the role that organization theory can and does play in management and organization history (Maclean, Harvey, and Clegg 2015; Rowlinson, Hassard, and Decker 2014; Taylor, Bell, and Cooke 2009; Clark and Rowlinson 2004) should enjoinder greater engagement with areas where historians have long engaged in theoretical work. Classical theories of imperialism (Hobson 1902; Lenin 1999; Schumpeter 1951), historiographical theories of imperialism (Cain and Hopkins 2002; Gallagher and Robinson 1953; Jones 1980; West 1973), and post-colonial theory that explores the operation of capitalism (for example, Chibber 2014; Quijano 2007; Moraña, Dussel, and Jáuregui 2008) are all theory-sets that draw heavily on historical analysis. The already rich relationship between history and theory in these connected fields provides an opportunity to explore the contribution that management and organization history can make to both the theories and history of imperialism and coloniality, and how a reflection on these topics can provoke a richer and theory-informed understanding of how management and organizations replicate and form circuits of power–globally and locally.

In a contribution to the growing literature on coloniality, Aníbal Quijano writes that

In the beginning colonialism was a product of a systematic repression, not only of the specific beliefs, ideas, images, symbols or knowledge that were not useful to global colonial domination, while at the same time the colonizers were expropriating from the colonized their knowledge, specially in mining, agriculture, engineering, as well as their products and work. The repression fell, above all, over the modes of knowing, of producing knowledge, of producing perspectives, images and systems of images, symbols, modes of signification, over the resources, patterns, and instruments of formalized and objectivised expression, intellectual or visual. (Quijano, 2007, p.169).

The historical and contemporary claims made by Quijano that relate to management and organization (for instance, the simultaneous and ongoing imposition and expropriation of socio-economic knowledge) and its express linkage to business activities, resonates with the business history literature on the role that corporations have played in the process of imperialism in “informal” spheres, in particular in Latin America (for example, the classic work of Christopher Platt. See Platt 1977 as well as Jones 1980, and Miller 1999). While there have been recent contributions to that have reflected on the use of knowledge and organizational learning in the creation of colonial business activity (Mollan 2009) and the continuity of management practices from the colonial period to the present (Cooke 2003) there remains a gulf in knowledge of how business–and managerial practices of firms and other international organizations–created and sustained the social and economic relationships described by the writers on coloniality and imperialism. The methods of coercion, systemic integration, management control, and knowledge, remain largely opaque at the organizational level. Nevertheless, the continuity of these practices is present in what Bobby Banerjee has described as ‘necrocapitalism’, a contemporary form of colonialism; the power of corporations ‘to create lifeworlds and deathworlds in the contemporary political economy’ (Banerjee 2008, 1542). If this is so, then a fuller understanding of imperialism and coloniality in management and organization history will have much to reveal about international economic relations, social and economic development, enduring inequalities, and managerial and organizational behaviour in the liminal space between the ‘developed’ and ’emerging’ economies however considered with reference to period and place.

Topics might include but are not limited to:

  • The absorption and co-option of knowledge from colonized peoples into the organization(s) and management of empire
  • How management and organization perform agency and create structure in imperial and post-colonial contexts
  • Management and organization historical studies that explore classical, historiographical and post-colonial theories of imperialism and coloniality
  • New management and organization theories of imperialism and coloniality
  • Organizations as sites of contestation and liminality in imperial and colonial encounters
  • Management and organization as acts of colonial violence
  • The relationship between business, management, organization and (under)development in imperial and post-colonial periods
  • Management and organization as processes, and organizations as institutions, in the transmission of imperial power
  • Managers as colonial elites; colonial elites as managers
  • The development of management thought and its relationship to (neo)imperial ideas
  • Slavery and forced labour in the management and organization history of empire
  • Representations of empire in corporate history
  • Corporate archives as archives of imperialism
  • The colonial heritage of multinationals


Banerjee, Subhabrata Bobby. 2008. “Necrocapitalism.” Organization Studies 29 (12): 1541–63.
Cain, Peter J., and Anthony G. Hopkins. 2002. British Imperialism: 1688-2000. London: Pearson Education.
Chibber, Vivek. 2014. Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital. Verso Books.
Clark, Peter, and Michael Rowlinson. 2004. “The Treatment of History in Organisation Studies: Towards an ‘Historic Turn’?” Business History 46 (3): 331–52.
Cooke, Bill. 2003. “The Denial of Slavery in Management Studies.” Journal of Management Studies 40 (8). Blackwell Publishing Ltd.: 1895–1918. doi:10.1046/j.1467-6486.2003.00405.x.
Gallagher, John, and Ronald Robinson. 1953. “The Imperialism of Free Trade.” The Economic History Review 6 (1). Wiley Online Library: 1–15.
Hobson, John Atkinson. 1902. Imperialism: A Study. Vol. 3. London.
Jones, Charles. 1980. “‘Business Imperialism’and Argentina, 1875-1900: A Theoretical Note.” Journal of Latin American Studies 12 (2). JSTOR: 437–44.
Lenin, Vladimir Ilʹich. 1999. Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism. Resistance Books.
Maclean, Mairi, Charles Harvey, and Stewart R Clegg. 2015. “Conceptualizing Historical Organization Studies.” Academy of Management Review.
Miller, Rory. 1999. “Informal Empire in Latin America.” Winks, Robin W., The Oxford History of the British Empire 5.
Mollan, Simon. 2009. “Business Failure, Capital Investment and Information: Mining Companies in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, 1900–13.” The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 37 (2): 229–48.
Moraña, Mabel, Enrique D Dussel, and Carlos A Jáuregui. 2008. Coloniality at Large: Latin America and the Postcolonial Debate. Duke University Press.
Platt, Desmond Christopher Martin. 1977. Business Imperialism, 1840-1930: An Inquiry Based on British Experience in Latin America. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Quijano, Aníbal. 2007. “Coloniality and Modernity/rationality.” Cultural Studies 21 (2-3). Taylor & Francis: 168–78.
Rowlinson, Michael, John Hassard, and Stephanie Decker. 2014. “Research Strategies for Organizational History: A Dialogue between Historical Theory and Organization Theory.” Academy of Management Review 39 (3): 250–74.
Schumpeter, Joseph A. 1951. The Sociology of Imperialism. Meridian Books.
Taylor, Scott, Emma Bell, and Bill Cooke. 2009. “Business History and the Historiographical Operation.”Management & Organizational History 4 (2): 151–66..
West, Katharine. 1973. “Theorising about ‘imperialism’: A Methodological Note.” The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 1 (2): 147–54.

Submission Instructions

Informal enquiries to the editors of the Special Issue are welcome:

The York Management School
University of York
Freboys Lane
United Kingdom
YO10 5GD

Paper development workshops

To support the development of papers for this special issue, there will be two opportunities for intending authors to present and develop their work.

The Management History Research Group Annual workshop will be held in Sheffield on Tuesday 12 and Wednesday 13 July 2016. Panels relating to the Special Issue will be held at the workshop. Further details can be found at the web-link below:

There will be a further one-day PDW held in the Autumn of 2016, details of which will be advertised in due course.

Deadline for article submissions: Friday 16 December 2016

Editorial information


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