Corporate Archives in Global Perspective

Corporate Archives in Global Perspective: Preliminary Timetable

Thursday 24th November 2016:

10.00 Opening of workshop, words of welcome, practical information

10.15-11.00. Key Note I Professor Elizabeth Shepherd (UCL, London) TBA

11.00 -12.00 Session I: Voice vs Silence in the Corporate Archive:

Mats Jönsson (University of Gothenburg): “From Private Silent Imagery to Counterfactual Audiovisual History: Causes and Effects of Digital Compilation by A Commercial Film Archive”..”

Andrew Smith (University of Liverpool) & Maki Umemura (Cardiff Business School), “Why We Need a Transparency Revolution in Business History.”

Lunch: 12.00-13.00

13.00-14.30 Session II: National vs. International Perspectives on Preservation of Corporate Archives

Karl-Magnus Johansson (Landsarkivet I Goteborg), “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), “International Archives and National Institutions.”

Coffee: 14.30-15.00

15.00-16.30: Session III Public needs vs Private Interests? Competing Models for Preserving Corporate Archives

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

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

Jarmo Luoma-Aho (Central Archive for Finnish Business Records): “The state subsidy system for private archives and the Central Archives for Finnish Business Records.”

16.30-17.30: Panel Discussion and Closing of Day 1
Friday 25th November:

8.30-9.15 Key Note II: Professor Charles Harvey, (Newcastle University Business School) “History, Archives and the Pursuit of Competitive Advantage: Upside and Downside”.

9.15-9.30 Coffee:

9.30-11.30 Session III: Business Archives and the Control of the Past

Diego Coraiola (University of Victoria) & Wim van Lent: “Creating the Ultimate History: Archives, Memory and Control at the Dutch East India Company.”

Hans Hulling (Karlstads Universitet), “Histories in the Principality of Uddeholm: Corporation, Trade Union and local Community narrating History at times of Transformation and Crisis, ca 1870-1990.”

Andrew Popp (University of Gothenburg) and Susanna Fellman (University of Gothenburg), “A Stakeholder Perspective on Corporate Archives.”

Roy Suddaby (University of Victoria), TBA

11.30 closing of seminar, lunch.

Research Fellowship Canada

The 2017-18 CBHA/ACHA Research Fellowship

The CBHA/ACHA, Canada’s leading organization for the study of business in Canada, offers support for a research project in an area of Canadian business history.  Applicants are encouraged to think creatively in developing proposals that will result in an academic product (scholarly article, book project, digital, oral or public history project) that advances our understanding of some aspect of Canadian business history.  The field of study is open, to any area or time period, but the Grants Committee especially encourages proposals that embrace questions that emerge from the global and international challenges faced by Canadian business.  One particular area of interest for the CBHA/ACHA is the internationalization of Canadian financial services.

The successful applicant will receive up to $5,000 per year over two years, for a total of up to $10,000, to support the completion of the project.  Academic support and oversight will be provided by an Academic Advisory Board drawn from the CBHA’s membership.  The Research Fellowship is open to graduate students (MA, PhD., MBA), and postgraduate scholars at an early stage of their academic careers (within ten years of completing their degrees).

Deadline for applications to the CBHA Research Fellowship is 31 January, 2017.  Applicants should include a cover letter, detailed project proposal, and curriculum vitae to be sent to the CBHA Grants Committee, c/o Dr. Christopher Kobrak, Wilson/Currie Chair of Canadian Business and Financial History, Rotman School of Business, University of Toronto, 105 St George St, Toronto, ON M5S 3E6.  Enquires and applications can also be sent to

About the CBHA:  Created in 2015, the CBHA brings together academics from a wide range of disciplines, archivists and business leaders in the common pursuit of advancing the study and understanding of business history in Canada.  Learn more about the CBHA at our website,

ToC Business History 58(8) November


Transaction costs of early modern multinational enterprise: measuring the transatlantic information lag of the British Royal African Company and its successor, 1680–1818
Klas Rönnbäck
Pages: 1147-1163 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1156087

A cricket ground or a football stadium? The business of ground sharing at the Adelaide Oval before 1973
Lionel Frost, Margaret Lightbody, Amanda Carter & Abdel K. Halabi
Pages: 1164-1182 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1167188

A decade of hybrid reporting and accountabilities of the Hanyeping Company (1909–1919)
Lan Peng & Alistair M. Brown
Pages: 1183-1209 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1167878

Dealing with globalisation: the Nordic countries and inward FDI, 1900–1939
Andreas R. Dugstad Sanders, Pål Thonstad Sandvik & Espen Storli
Pages: 1210-1235 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1172568

Weber’s Protestant Work Ethic: a case study of Scottish entrepreneurs, the Coats Family of Paisley
Kirsten Kininmonth
Pages: 1236-1261 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1172569

National image as a competitive disadvantage: the case of the New Zealand organic food industry
Geoffrey Jones & Simon Mowatt
Pages: 1262-1288 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1178721
Book Reviews

The power of corporate networks: a comparative and historical perspective
Leslie Hannah
Pages: 1289-1290 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1156221

La Compagnie des compteurs, acteur et témoin des mutations industrielles du xxe siècle (1872–1987)
Hubert Bonin
Pages: 1290-1292 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2015.1068519

The rise of the public authority: statebuilding and economic development in twentieth-century America
Alex Gillett
Pages: 1292-1293 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1175542

The business of waste: Great Britain and Germany, 1945 to the present
Alex Gillett
Pages: 1293-1295 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1175541

Funded PhD position

PhD position at the Department of Historical studies

1 PhD position within the project “European integration and the quest for access to external natural resources, 1945-2015.”

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU, Trondheim), Department of Historical Studies, offers a full-time 3-year PhD position within the project “European integration and the quest for access to external natural resources, 1945-2015. “, funded by the Norwegian Research Council (NFR). The PhD candidate will work with the project leader, Researcher Mats Ingulstad (NTNU). The department also hosts several other research projects which examine different aspects of the international political economy of natural resources. The PhD candidate will thus be a part of a research team of 12-14 historians.

The research project examines how European countries have worked through the EU and its predecessors to secure their supply of raw materials from external sources. It will examine how this influenced the integration process from 1945 until the present, and how the EU-members collectively have sought to shape the international environment in order facilitate access to these resources.

The proposed PhD project should illuminate longer trajectories in the historical relationship between the member states individually or collectively, the EU, and third countries, based on the exploitation of natural resources. Relevant topics are diplomacy, international trade, decolonization, development, technology, environmental and security policy. A description of the research project is available upon request from the project leader (

For further information, please follow this link:


EGOS tracks with history

Next year, the Standing Working Group 8: History in Organization Studies, will no longer run at the European Group for Organization Studies Annual Conference. But since Copenhagen Business School is celebrating its centenary (please see the final call for sub-theme 44), there are in fact three tracks that mention history in their call. Hopefully see you next year at one of these tracks!

Sub-theme 04: (SWG) Long-shots and Close-ups: Organizational Ethnography, Process and History

… Ethnography – or, to emphasize its processual nature: ethnographying (Tota, 2004) – typically means, first, having a prolonged and intensive engagement with the research setting, following actors, issues, materials as they move through time and space (fieldwork). Second, ethnography embraces a sensibility towards overt, tacit and/or concealed processes of meaning-making (sensework). Third, ethnographic analyses are commonly presented through a written text, which places both author and reader at the scene, in the midst of a process, while also placing the day-to-day happenings within a social, political, and historical context (textwork). This allows organizational ethnographers to capture the unfolding of organizational life and its dynamism in at least two different ways (van Hulst et al., forthcoming; Ybema et al., 2009): taking ‘long shots’ that follow developments over an extended period of time (long-term dynamics) and making ‘close-ups’ of the dynamics of day-to-day organizational life (short-term dynamics). Some ethnographic researchers stretch their fieldwork over many months or years of present-time work; others include historical analysis and archival data. Both of these allow researchers to follow slow-paced developments or sudden transformations over long periods of time. These longitudinal ethnographies offer in-depth accounts of organizational life across time. A second potential strength of ethnography for studying organizational processes lies in its quality of eyeing the moment-to-moment details of everyday organizing. Having a shorter term focus, these studies bring into view, for instance, situational dynamics or organizational bricolage. …

For more details, please see the EGOS website.

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

We have already posted the full call, but here just a quick introduction:

“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). That is, our preference for studying dramatic instances of revolutionary change means that we know relatively little about processes of evolutionary change.”

For more details, please see the EGOS website.

Sub-theme 44: Rethinking History, Rethinking Business Schools

The EGOS Colloquium in 2017 coincides with the 100th anniversary of Copenhagen Business School (CBS), which will be commemorated in part by the publication of a history of the Business School written by members of the Centre for Business History at CBS. This coincidence provides an opportunity to rethink both the role of history in business schools, as well as the history of business schools themselves, along with the part played by management and organization studies within that history.

Both business schools and organization studies have sought to legitimate themselves through history in relation to older disciplines in the university. Textbooks regularly claim Max Weber as a founder for the so-called “Classical School” of management and organization studies even though Weber himself could never have been an adherent of such a school because it was only invented, along with organization studies, long after he died (Cummings & Bridgman, 2011). When Harvard Business School was facing criticism in the 1930s for the banality of management research, one response from the Dean, Wallace B. Donham, was to hire a historian to study management and to use a donation from the retailer Gordon Selfridge to buy historical business documents from Italy relating to the Medici family during the Renaissance (O’Connor, 2012, p. 58). …

For more details, please see the EGOS website.

Review: The Impossible Necessity of History

Crossposted from:

Howard Aldrich reviews Ged Martin’s “Past Futures”

In terms of data, three problems confront anyone turning to the historical record for evidence about what “happened in the past.” First, throughout most of human history, very little that happened was permanently documented. Hugely significant events went unrecorded or noted with incomplete details using fragile techniques and materials, which disintegrated, burned, and were lost forever. Second, only a minuscule fraction of the population has ever been in a position to actually have their actions recorded. Much of what we do know about the past concerns that vanishingly small segment of the population some have recently labeled the 1%: elites who had the luxury of employing others to document what they did or the resources to create semi-permanent records using materials such as stone or parchment. The vast majority of the population engaged in activities that are now essentially invisible to us, although forensic anthropology and archaeology are pretty good at working with the few artifacts we can find. Third, more problematic is the tendency of those people who did leave records behind to engage in hyperbole, self-aggrandizement, and untrustworthy accounts of the role they actually played in historical events. Although the rise of modern digital technology would seem to have improved matters greatly, Martin argues that the problem still exists, but now on a grander scale. It is simply impossible to know everything that happened in the past.

In terms of model building, contemporary historians are in the unfortunate position of knowing exactly how things turned out. First, scholars are tempted to build their explanations backwards, starting from outcomes and then searching for plausible prior events, continuing back through history until reaching a “satisfactory” explanation. But, they will be working with historical materials left behind from each era by people who had their own theories of why things had happened and structured their documentation accordingly. Second, almost all events have multiple causes.  Prioritizing them and determining how much leverage each exerted on an outcome of interest is nearly impossible, given the data problems mentioned above. Martin compares this task unfavorably to the situation that laboratory scientists work with, which allows them to run multiple experiments, under conditions where they can control many possible causes, and isolate the influence of specific factors. By that test, of course, almost all social science explanations will also fail. Third, and perhaps more important, uncertainty permeates every aspect of human activity, with people facing multiple options at every turn. Even focusing on “decision-making,” as Martin advocates, doesn’t remove the problem of people having only the faintest of ideas concerning what’s going to happen next, given the action they take. Moreover, because we have no way of getting inside the heads of the people who made those important decisions, we can only speculate as to what they were thinking at the time they acted.

The “past futures” of the title refers to the fact that from the perspective of the present, everything in the past could be viewed as the realized futures of people who had little clue as to what was coming next. Today, we are their future, but it is highly unlikely that one any of them foresaw it. In writing history by looking backwards, from the present, it is tempting to make our “known past” part of our explanation by treating it as the intended future of humans who were making decisions about what options to pursue. But of course, lacking clairvoyance, they had no ability to imagine all the possible futures that would unfold. Nonetheless, the temptation to write linear, coherent narratives about why things had to happen the way they did overwhelms most scholars.

But wait, there’s more! Martin also takes historians to task for imposing normative judgments on the actions of historical figures, using contemporary values. The severity of the normative judgment increases, the further back in time the historian travels. He uses the example of people involved in the slave trade in the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as more contemporary examples. Martin’s point is that such normative judgments cloud the construction of analytic arguments, biasing the selection of cases and causal principles.

Despite the incredibly bleak picture Martin draws of the impossibility of historical analysis, he nonetheless concludes his book with the argument that contemporary social scientists “need” historical analysis. Giving up their quest for comprehensive explanations of historical events, historians can instead simply locate events in time and identify their relationships to one another. They can tentatively indicate which events were more significant than others by making comparisons to possible alternatives, now known because we have the luxury of looking backwards. Abandoning the conceit of the superior present, they can remind us that “each succeeding present is merely provisional, nothing more than a moving line between past and future.”

Discerning readers of my blog post will now recognize why I like this book so much: this is a very evolutionary argument, cognizant of the need for humility in building tentative explanations of social phenomenon. “Past futures” are always explicable, if one is willing to commit the kinds of methodological and analytic fallacies that Martin points out. Don’t go there. He argues that contemporary historiography has plenty to do, without falling into the trap of building “neat and tidy” explanations. Instead, historians can make us aware of our own ethical standpoints and caution us against ransacking the past for justifications of currently favored policies. The future awaits us, but it is probably not the one that we envisioned, nor could we.

SMJ CfP: History & Strategy Research

Call for Papers for a Special Issue – Strategic Management Journal


History and Strategy Research: Opening Up the Black Box

Submission Deadline: September 30, 2017


Guest Editors

Nicholas S. Argyres, Washington University in St. Louis

Alfredo De Massis, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano and Lancaster University

Nicolai J. Foss, Bocconi University

Federico Frattini, Politecnico di Milano

Geoffrey Jones, Harvard University

Brian S. Silverman, University of Toronto

SMJ Advising Editors

Sendil Ethiraj and Constance Helfat



Business history and strategy research have traditionally had a close relationship. Thus, Chandler’s seminal research is often seen as key input into the development of strategy as an academic research field. Historical research methods and historical data are used to study a diverse set of strategic issues including industry evolution, technology strategy, dynamic capabilities and diffusion of innovation. More recently, interest has been growing with respect to exploring the nexus between history and strategy.

Historical analysis may be broadly defined as “empirical research that uses remote sensing and a contextualist approach to explanation.” Such analysis can be highly useful in strategy research that seeks to analyze path dependence or understand the origins/evolution of contemporary phenomena, identify sources of exogenous variation, develop and test historically informed theory, and add more detail to existing theories. Historical analysis allows strategy scholars to historically embed the study of how organizations learn, innovate and make strategic decisions over time. Equally important, such analysis enables scholars to understand how actors strategically develop interpretations of historical facts that shape their present behavior and set expectations for the future, and use artifacts from the past to create the basis for strategies in the present.

Aims and Scope

This Special Issue will push forward research at the intersection between history and strategy, to further integrate these two disciplines. We welcome empirical papers that apply established and innovative research methodologies to strategy questions by using historical data and records. In particular, we encourage research that uses novel datasets that support tracing over time how organizations, groups and individuals—by acting in a particular historically embedded context, and by mutually interacting—built, implemented and modified strategies. We also call for theoretical modeling that builds on history and provides new insights into the historical implica­tions of strategy.

Below we suggest two research themes that  illustrate the intersection of strategy and historical analysis. However, many other such themes can be envisaged and would be welcome as submissions to the Special Issue.

  1.  How do firms, groups and individuals use the past to give meaning to the present, inform their expectations about the future, and make strategic decisions? Within this research theme we encourage scholars to develop a more fine-grained understanding of the way in which the past influences how organizational goals are set, how future technology and market trends are forecast, and how new business opportunities are identified, evaluated and exploited. Path dependence suggests that the decisions an organization makes are influenced and limited by the decisions it has made in the past. However, we need more precise explanations of how specific and non-recurrent facts (or actions taken) in the past have led to particular strategic behaviors and to the development of organiza­tional capabilities. Such explanations of how the past somehow acquires cognitive salience and normative force can only be developed in close interplay with actual historical inquiry.
  1. How do firms, groups and individuals use knowledge and resources stemming from the past to trigger and realize acts of organizational change and innovation? Current research tends to portray the past as a constraining force that reduces flexibility and produces resistance to change, thus leading to organizational inertia, competence lock-ins, and escalating commitments to past actions. However, research suggests that firms can create competitive advantage through acts of innovation and organizational renewal by searching for, accessing, and using knowledge created at different points in the past, i.e., through “temporal search.” This opens up a set of timely and relevant research questions. What are the firm-, individual- and group-level capabilities required to successfully search, identify and recombine knowledge resources acquired in the past? How do firms learn to make innovations in their products, services, business models, procedures and strategies from the past? How do innovation processes and practices evolve over time, and how are they shaped by the interactions between firms and the past?

Submission Process

Submitted papers must be in accordance with the requirements of the Strategic Management Journal. Original manuscripts are due by the Submission Deadline of September 30, 2017, and must be submitted using the SMJ Submission system at Authors should indicate that they would like the submission to be considered for the special issue “History and Strategy Research: Opening Up the Black Box”. Authors of papers invited to be revised and resubmitted will be expected to work within a tight timeframe for revisions.

Further Information

Questions concerning pertaining to this special issue may be directed to:

For questions about submitting to the special issue contact the SMJ Managing Editor, Sara DiBari ( or visit