CFP: EGOS Sub-Theme: Theorizing the Past, Present and Future in Organization Theory

Crossposted from The Past Speaks

The Past Speaks

Sub-theme 43: Theorizing the Past, Present and Future in Organization Theory


David Chandler
University of Colorado Denver, USA

Mar Pérezts
EMLyon Business School, France

Roy Suddaby
University of Victoria, Canada, & Newcastle University Business School, United Kingdom

Call for Papers
Many organizational outcomes are the result of processes that occur over long periods of time. In spite of this, within much macro-level research the passage of time tends to be assumed or ignored, rather than theorized rigorously (Bluedorn & Denhardt, 1988; Goodman et al., 2001; Lee & Liebenau, 1999). One way in which we exclude time from our theories is by studying climactic moments of change. Although these “moments of institutional choice” are inherently interesting, focusing on them risks privileging the instance of change at the expense of the essential groundwork that generated the conditions under which the opportunity for change emerged (Pierson, 2004, p. 136)…

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Corporate Archives in Global Perspective: Preliminary timetable

Cross-posted from The Past Speaks

The Past Speaks

This is the programme of the workshop on Corporate Archives that will be held at the University of Gothenburg in November.

Thursday 24th November 2016:

10.00 Opening of workshop, words of welcome, practical information

10.15. Key note 1:

11.00 -12.15 Session I: National vs. International Perspectives on Preservation of Corporate Archives

Karl-Magnus Johansson (Landsarkivet i Göteborg), “Short Introduction to Swedish Corporate Archives and their Preservation.”

Anders Houltz (Centre for Business History, Sweden), “Private Interests and National heritage: A Swedish Model for Preserving Corporate Archives.”

Diego Coraiola (University of Victoria, Canada) & Stephanie Decker (Aston Business School, UK), “International Archives and National Institutions.”

Lunch: 12.15-13.15

13.15-14.45 Session II: Public needs vs Private Interests? Competing Models for Preserving Corporate Archives

Neill Forbes (University of Coventry, UK), “New connections for the BT Archives?

Inte Fintland & Torkel Thime (Arkivverket, Norway), “The Potential and Possible Problems in Combining Private and Public Archival Material.”

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CfP: The Nationality of the Company


The “Nationality” of the Company: Historical Approaches to a Possible Paradox


University of Frankfurt am Main, 17.-18. November 2017

Organizer: Boris Gehlen (University of Bonn), Christian Marx (University of Trier), Werner Plumpe (University of Frankfurt/M.), and Alfred Reckendrees (Copenhagen Business School)

The relationship between nation states and the companies based in their respective territories is often ambiguous. Companies provide employment and they pay taxes, they contribute to national income and frequently to “national identity” (Disney, Dior, Daimler). Companies and businessmen engage in bilateral and international diplomacy, e.g. as door-openers for new relationships of the West to the Soviet Union in the 1950s or to China in the late 1970s. At other times, companies supported national policies of war and crimes against humanity. The histories of Chrysler, Krupp, or Rolls-Royce – to name just a few examples – provide abundant evidence of embeddedness and dependence on state capacity. Time and again, even companies describing themselves as multi- or trans-national seem to appreciate the security net of a nation state with its government and constituency of taxpayers, who act as lenders of last resort. In times of financial crisis there is no dearth of companies that claim to be citizens of a nation state for the sake of access to the respective state’s resources. At the same time the modern state has developed towards a ‘competition state’ acting like a company in a market of countries vying for investments. Nation states brand themselves; they try to attract customers and to service international markets. The question of companies and their nationality opens the discussion about how companies relate to society and the nation state, and vice versa. What nationality (if it has one) does a company have and how can it be conceived? In this call for paper we present some topics and examples indicating that nationality might matter in specific ways and that discussing a company’s nationality and studying how it is produced and/or how it changed over time might be a promising enterprise. The topics are not conclusive; all proposals discussing the issue of nationality in regard to (private) companies are welcome.

Perceptions and construction of nationality

The perception of what a company is about differs. Owners, employees, customers, and other stakeholders entertain different views on the same company. Employment might be one of the crucial factors in the discussion about the “nationality” of a company, products are perhaps another. The history of products is full of national narratives and sentiments; for more than a century “nationality” has been an element in marketing strategies and in the attempt to protect domestic markets (‘Made in Germany’, ‘Buy British’ etc). When Toyota set up subsidiaries in the USA in the 1980s, it employed American workers; its products continued to be “Japanese” cars, though, an argument frequently used to denounce Detroit’s competitors. What changed in the period of “globalization”? Many companies still produce “national” identities to promote specific products or strategies. Are these instances of “glocalization” turned “national”? It is generally assumed that McDonalds is an American corporation, and perhaps it is. But what about Atomic, the icon of Austrian skiing, owned by the Finnish corporation Amer Sports? Or Braun, whose products are perceived as the best of “German” industrial design? Since 1967 Braun has been owned by the “American” Gillette until in 2005 Gillette, and with it Braun, was sold to Procter & Gamble. Today, “Swiss” watches are sold with reference to national culture and values though the firm may be owned by a “Japanese” holding, the watch movement produced in Switzerland defines the nationality on the wrist. However, a Volkswagen car produced in Poland continues to be “German” car – how come?

Nationality as strategy

A company’s nationality is produced over time, and there are many factors to it, not least political factors. Yet, it does not seem as if a company’s nationality was a mere figment of imagination or only a matter of perception that can easily be neutralized or simply changed. When Deutsche Bank set out to depart from its “national identity” it turned out to be impossible; and companies that aimed at establishing themselves as part of the respective host nation’s community (be it open as in the case of Unilever or IBM Deutschland, or secret as ownership cloaking in the Interwar period) very often had a difficult time. Internationalization strategies, the decision of whether to use branches or to set up independent subsidiaries that operate according to the regulations of the “host” country is often explained with favourable or unfavourable institutional arrangements or with the range of foreign activities. Political risk may play a role as well. Does the “nationality” of the company going abroad and does the respective host countries also matter for the respective strategy? And, moreover, what about the relation of size and strategy? Do small and medium-sized companies pursue a different approach to “nationality” in comparison to large-scale companies? Are “small-multinationals” more nationally (or regionally) embedded?

Nationality in international companies and international mergers

Very many companies go abroad with their products, their brand, or parts or even all of their production; they internationalize and some of them seem to create new supranational entities that may outdo medium sized states in terms of economic power. Yet management may use the concept of nationality as a device to instil a sense of competition between different sites of production and the respective workforces within the corporation. Scepticism and fear of alien domination may arise when firms are taken over by foreign investors. Depending on the perceived “nationality” of the investor there seem to be good and bad takeovers, but what defines a good or a bad “nationality”? In the context of unwanted take-overs, employees and their trade unions often contribute to the construction of the “nationality” of a company.

National diversities

Business historians have long debated ‘national management styles’ and management practices. And there may indeed be leadership styles more prevalent in some national contexts and institutional environments than in others. But should one distinguish between ‘American’, ‘German’, or ‘Japanese’ firms or capitalisms? This notion includes more than historically developed institutional varieties as discussed in the Varieties-ofCapitalism literature; it implies that cultural differences and “nationality” matter in a certain way. This question, among others, is dealt with in the fields of immigrant entrepreneurship and ethnic business groups. And it should not be limited to the field of management styles. Companies are fields of action of different corporate agents including managers, executive staff members, workers or employee representatives. Do, for example, German work councils feel responsible for British employees? Would it be possible to assign industrial relations within a company to a specific “nationality”?

Companies in (post)colonial settings

In the era of decolonization, many Western companies saw the newly independent nations of Asia and Africa not only as sources for raw materials but also as promising markets. In some cases older business ties were reactivated or strengthened; in other cases companies entered the new nations as newcomers. Since many former colonies opted for planned, protected economies and restricted foreign direct investment, companies interested in doing business there had to negotiate with governments and bureaucracies. How did the “nationality” of the firms in question affect these relationships? Furthermore, post-colonial multi-ethnic societies often invented new variants of the nation state. There might be a specific corporate response to new nationalism in post-colonial countries for companies having roots within or outside the respective new states. Also, behavioral patterns of “foreign” companies might be contingent on their relationship to the previous colonial power. Similar questions arise of course also regarding the colonial period.

Economic nationalism

One root of economic nationalism is the nation state and the protection of its citizens and their interests. Yet the quest for protection as well as the range of protection differs over time. The fear of foreign domination is often used as an argument to promote anti-foreign politics. Yet it is not only the political realm from which come calls for protectionism and anti-foreign measures. Companies ask for state protection as well in the shape of tariffs, subsidiaries, or other forms of legal, material, or moral support. When do we find economic nationalism in business? There is evidence for corporate support both to economic openness and to economic nationalism. One would expect export-oriented companies to behave different from those predominantly active in domestic markets, or companies relying on foreign finance to be in favour of open trade. But does this assumption hold? Some areas in which these relations are manifest are national and international cartels, restrictions on FDI, barriers to trade, currency issues, etc.

We invite scholars and Ph.D. students of any relevant (sub-) discipline to submit paper proposals relating to the wide range of topics that come under to the “nationality of the company”.

Abstracts of 500 to 1,000 words (PDF format) presenting the subject, the conceptual framework and the analytical approach along with a brief CV (one page at the most) should be sent to Boris Gehlen [], Christian Marx [], or Alfred Reckendrees [] by September 30, 2016. At this point in time funding of travelling expenses and hotel for active participants is not guaranteed. Yet, we are optimistic that our funding application will be successful.

ToC Business History 58(7) October

Original Articles

‘Inequality’ and ‘value’ reconsidered? the employment of post office women, 1910–1922
Mark J. Crowley
Pages: 985-1007 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1155556

The burden of the family company: Leopoldo Pirelli and his times
Franco Amatori
Pages: 1008-1033 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1154046

The development of integrated marketing communications at the British General Post Office, 1931–39
Michael Heller
Pages: 1034-1054 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1155557

Food chains and the retailing revolution: supermarkets, dairy processors and consumers in Spain (1960 to the present)
Fernando Collantes
Pages: 1055-1076 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1155558

Cartels and norms in the Swedish steel industry 1923–1953
Birgit Karlsson
Pages: 1077-1094 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1156086

The rise of the LP: the politics of diffusion innovation in the recording industry
Mark Harvey
Pages: 1095-1117 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1156673

Issues in European business education in the mid-nineteenth century: a comparative perspective
Adrien Jean-Guy Passant
Pages: 1118-1145 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1158251

EBHA 2017: Transformations in Business and Society

European Business History Association
21st annual congress, Vienna

Transformation in Business and Society:
An Historical Approach

The term “transformation” is often associated with Karl Polanyi’s famous analysis of how, in the early 19th century, England’s traditional, communitybased “welfare system” collapsed as new poor laws replaced local authorities’ responsibility for the welfare of the needy born in their jurisdictions. But Polanyi’s “Great Transformation” is just one, albeit prominent, example of how legal, organizational, technological, and political developments force broader socioeconomic change.
Managing dramatic changes in social patterns and modes of production, such as that entailed by the ”fourth industrial revolution,” serve as both a challenge and opportunity for business. These transformations represent a sort of “exogenous force with the power of a tsunami,” as one commentator put it. (© Nicholas Davis of the World Economic Forum) In our own era, for example, they create entirely new options for automatization and digitization, by rearranging a host of business costs and potential benefits. Historically, as Schumpeter wrote, these challenges to the existing order push the entrepreneur to relentless “creative destruction,” fundamental to business innovation. Even financial crises, political revolutions and regime changes have served as catalysts for the transformation of business institutions and organizations. By changing incentives, legal frameworks, internal compliance and accountability, political upheaval refocuses business energies and structures.
For the European Business History Association’s 21st annual congress , which will be held in Vienna on August 24-26, 2017 , we, the organizers, therefore propose to discuss transformation processes in business and society in a broad, historical perspective. Such a perspective, in our view, should include political and social factors as well as technological and organizational innovations affecting businesses and the broad economy, both on national and international levels, into this century. Since Vienna, our conference site, was once the capital of an extended, East Central European multinational empire, we especially welcome the submission of papers that deal with the volatile history of the ECE region. The implementation, management and eventual implosion of „real socialism” and the ensuing efforts to reposition formerly socialist economies and businesses along marketcapitalistic lines deserve to be called transformations of genuinely secular importance, comparable in geographic scope and impact with events as old as the abolition of rural feudal obligations around the middle of the nineteenth century. With the recent Brexit vote, this topic of transformation has taken on even greater significance.

We especially invite anyone interested in the conference theme of “Great Transformations” to propose papers and/or sessions and larger panels.

Additional topics include:
1. What business models are particularly important to developing economies?
2. How and why do organizations change over time?
3. How have business’s regulatory contexts affected commercial activity?
4. How have international capital flows transformed business models and business
5. How have business’s relationships with its principal stakeholders (for example, consumers, workers, unions, NGOs, media, national governments, and international institutions) changed over time and in different regions?
6. What is business’s relationship to environmental sustainability?
7. How does public and private entrepreneurship promote innovation?
8. How has internationalization affected companies? Do advantages and disadvantages relate to the category – form of business (family enterprises – multinationals)?
9. How do ethnic networks and family businesses affect business models?
10. What impact does immigration have on business globalization?
11. How has the image of business’s social contribution and professionalism changed since the 2008 Crisis?
12. What roles have women managers and investors played in the development of business?
13. How have the methods and sources of business history changed and how should these be adapted in order to meet the challenges resulting from digitalisation?
14. How did the creation of the European Union and its possible demise affect business?
Papers with other foci, however, will be considered as well. We also invite other formats, such as workshops, debates, discussions and poster presentations. Those should be sent direct to the organizers.
Three formats are typical:
1. Single papers create sessions based on submitted standalone
papers where the sessions are constructed by the program committee,
2. Session proposals of three to five papers suggested by the applicants,
3. Tracks of more than one session (up to three sessions – one afternoon)

Other formats might include, for example:
● Workshops groups of scholars who want to use the opportunity of the congress to meet
to discuss publications or specific themes, for example. The precondition for workshop
formats is openness to new participants; all material to be discussed must have been
published on the conference webpage three weeks before the congress.
● Roundtable discussions on the state of the field/select aspects
● Debates on new research agendas or new approaches in teaching “business history”
● Discussions on “business history” in the public arena, such as in films, museums, etc.

Requirements for paper proposals 

The submission system consists of a template that specifically asks for
(1) Author information
Short CV
Authored publications related to the paper proposal
(2) An abstract of no more than six hundred words
(3) Additional information important to the program committee
Clear statement of the research question (not more than 150 words)
Brief information on the theoretical/conceptual framework used
Major research areas to which the paper relates
(4) Joint papers need a responsible applicant who will be at the conference if the proposal is accepted.
Please have this information ready to enter into the submission system via copy and paste.

Requirements for panel/track proposals
The criteria for single paper proposals also apply to session (and track ) proposals. There is, however, a specific template for session/track proposals.
Sessions tend to work better in the Congress because they create a more focused theme and papers that clearly relate to each other. They can be ninety minutes long (usually three papers) or two hours to accommodate more papers. A successful panel leaves significant time for the audience to raise questions, to comment and to generally discuss the panel’s theme. Good panels have a balance between cohesiveness and analytical breadth.
Tracks combine up to three sessions (a whole afternoon) in order to allow for a broader discussion of a specific approach, or large themes important to the field. In a track it is expected that the audience and the presenters, will engage in a wider discussion that continues throughout the track.
Organizers of panels/tracks are suggested to make an open call for the panel/track. This also draws attention to the congress and the potentially interesting debates that might take place.

Please note that paper, session/panel and track proposals must be submitted via the congress website. Paper proposals should include the title, abstracts (between 75 and 150 words in length), and the author’s (the authors’) CV (s). In addition, they should include a brief introduction to the overall topic addressed to the session. See the Conference Website for further details.

The deadline for the proposals is January 15, 2017.

Please use this link to upload proposals.

Charlotte Natmeßnig
Institut für Wirtschaftsgeschichte
WU Vienna University of Economics and Business
Welthandelsplatz 1, D4
Tel. +43 1 313 36 5255

Andrea H. Schneider
Gesellschaft für Unternehmensgeschichte e.V.
Sophienstr. 44
Frankfurt am Main
Tel. +49 69 972033 15
Fax +49 69 972033 57