Business History Review
Call for Papers for Special Issue of the Journal on


Guest editors: Charles Harvey*, Mairi Maclean** and Roy Suddaby***

*Professor of Business History and Management, Newcastle University, UK
**Professor of International Business, University of Bath, UK
***Winspear Chair of Management, University of Victoria, Canada

Theme of the Special Issue

Inequality is a deeply embedded feature of the contemporary world order (Reich, 2015). In this Special Issue, we focus on the related historical processes underpinning the amassing of entrepreneurial fortunes and large scale philanthropy (Baumol & Strom, 2014). Despite rising interest in charitable giving, philanthropy and the relationship of philanthropy to entrepreneurship remain under-researched and under-theorized. Business history research has much to offer in this regard. The engagement in philanthropy by enterprising individuals and families is a feature of many historical epochs in many countries, perhaps most famously associated with the Gilded Age in the United States and names such as Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller Sr., whose philanthropic foundations remain vital social institutions today (Hall, 1992; Zunz, 2012). The opportunity exists for historical research to inform current debates through research that offers long run perspectives and critical understandings of the relationships between entrepreneurship, wealth and philanthropy, each bound up with the economic, social, political and ideological forces that have shaped the new age of inequality (Boltanski & Chiapello, 2007; Piketty, 2014).

First, we observe that the making of entrepreneurial fortunes, often within the space of a few decades, is one factor driving the rise of inequalities within and between countries (Atkinson, 2015; Atkinson, Piketty & Saez, 2012; Bourguignon, 2015; Reich, 2015; Stiglitz, 2015). We are interested in how such fortunes have been made historically and the enabling conditions that gave rise to their creation, nationally and internationally. Second, we observe that the preservation and growth of large entrepreneurial fortunes has become an economic field in its own right, populated by allied accounting, taxation, wealth management and legal professional organizations that take advantage of enabling regulatory and legal frameworks across the world (Beaverstock & Hall, 2016; Palan & Mangravati, 2016). We are interested to learn more about how dedicated organizations such as family offices (Glucksberg & Burrows, 2016) have helped the super-rich to avoid contributing more to the societies in which they were nurtured. Third, we observe that significant numbers of entrepreneurs with large fortunes have become involved in large scale philanthropic ventures, seeking social improvement by combatting widespread economic and social disadvantages (Schervish, 2016). We are interested in why some entrepreneurs became entrepreneurial philanthropists and not others, how they selected and promoted their causes, and how they institutionalized their endeavours through the creation and endowment of philanthropic foundations.

The existing literature on the making and preservation of entrepreneurial fortunes and the investment of some part of these fortunes philanthropically is sparse relative to the
importance of the topic (Taylor, Strom & Renz, 2014; Hay & Beaverstock, 2016). Harvey, Maclean, Gordon and Shaw (2011) and Shaw, Gordon, Harvey and Maclean (2013) have defined the intersection of entrepreneurship and philanthropy as entrepreneurial philanthropy: the active deployment of various forms of capital by super-rich individuals and the companies and foundations they control in pursuit of ambitious social projects on a non-profit basis. The ideology and practices of entrepreneurial philanthropy are seen to have deep roots, originating in the second half of the nineteenth century and encapsulated in Carnegie’s famous essay The Gospel of Wealth (2014 [1889]). Conceived in one age of inequality, the entrepreneurial philanthropy construct remains a vital one today. It led to the first great wave of philanthropic foundations (Carnegie, Rockefeller, Kellogg, and Ford) and underpins the thinking behind the current wave of large scale philanthropic interventions of Gates and others (Bishop & Green, 2008). Entrepreneurial philanthropists bring to their interventions not only money but also their name, networks and business expertise, becoming activists and agents for change (Schervish, 2014). They are characterized by their drive to accumulate personal fortunes, together with a concomitant impulse to employ a share of their wealth in pursuit of philanthropic ventures which they control. Hence, their focus is directed towards the (entrepreneurial) creation of wealth and the (philanthropic) redistribution of that wealth to serve specified social objectives (Acs & Phillips, 2002; Audretsch & Hinger, 2014).

Yet despite growing attention paid to philanthropic giving (Bishop & Green, 2008) and the global reach of the phenomenon, entrepreneurial philanthropy remains under examined (Nicholls, 2010; Taylor, Strom & Renz, 2014), recent exceptions notwithstanding. Harvey, Maclean, Gordon and Shaw (2011), using capital theory to interpret the behavior of Andrew Carnegie, propose a transactional model of entrepreneurial philanthropy, moving the agenda to more critical terrain beyond the realms of altruism and disinterested social behaviour (Boulding, 1962), consonant with the work of Bekkers and Wiepking (2011), Bosworth (2011), Ostrower (1995), Schervish (2005, 2014) and Villadsen (2007). Maclean, Harvey, Gordon and Shaw (2015) take a further theoretical stride in showing how entrepreneurs who have become philanthropists deploy the metaphorical framework of the journey to navigate different social landscapes, and how philanthropic identities have unfolded through a process of wayfinding in response to events, transitions and turning points. Philanthropic identity narratives serve as ‘generativity scripts’ that empower wealthy entrepreneurs to generate a legacy that is both self and socially oriented. This finding is consistent with those of Feldman and Graddy-Reed (2014) who envision the emergence of community minded philanthropists as moving from a concern with business success to social success, as highlighted by social entrepreneurship scholars (Dees & Anderson, 2006; Maclean, Harvey & Gordon, 2013). Other research takes a more critical, pessimistic view of the social processes at work, identifying entrepreneurial philanthropy with the subjugation of democracy and the preservation of privilege on the part of super-rich entrepreneurs as a plutocratic class (Hay, 2016; Kapoor, 2016; Maclean & Harvey, 2016).

Business history, we propose, have much to offer to research on the interrelated topics of entrepreneurship and philanthropy. Friedman and Jones (2011), the current editors of the Business History Review, have argued persuasively that business historians should engage more fully with the defining issues of the moment. In this way, they might speak truth to power by establishing the historical contexts and forces, nationally and internationally, that have informed and continue to inform the present. History affords the opportunity to stand back and identify what has changed and what remains the same in structures and situations, establishing the perspectives necessary for sound policy making (Moody & Breeze, 2016; Reich, Cordelli & Bernholz, 2016). Events that may once have seemed of little consequence often turn out to be decisive, especially those that work subtly to effect far-reaching institutional change (North, 1990; Suddaby, Foster & Mills, 2014). The full effects of the prosecution of the neo-liberal agenda are salient in this regard (Harvey, 2005). Economic historians have already done much to inform the global debate on inequality and its consequences, to which the works of Piketty (2014) and Atkinson (2016) in particular bear elegant testimony. Within the domain of business history, the research of Hall (1992, 2006) and Zunz (2012) are exemplary in demonstrating the linkages between entrepreneurship and philanthropy. Both authors trace the development of philanthropy in the United States in the context of institutional and ideological change, particularly with respect to the formation of large private foundations, laying the groundwork for future work on more specific themes and issues. From a European standpoint, Roza, Vermuelen, Liket and Meijs (2014) point to the need for cross-nationally comparative historical research in highlighting the impact on philanthropic endeavours of different models of civil society and ideologies within different countries.

An essential quality of all papers selected for publication in the Special Issue is deep historical scholarship, exhibiting variously sensitivity to specific historical contexts, historiographical exactitude and skilled analysis of archival and other primary sources. As guest editors, we also urge potential contributors to the Special Issue to demonstrate engagement with appropriate theory and models in addition to excellence in historical research and analysis (Maclean, Harvey & Clegg, 2016a; 2016b; Suddaby, Hardy & Huy, 2011). In this way, we intend that articles selected for publication should speak to as wide an audience as possible inside and outside academia, bringing a real historical perspective to current debates on entrepreneurship and philanthropy and their role, actual and prospective, in the generation and mitigation of the inequalities that have become so entrenched within the world in which we live.
Potential Topics

The following list is indicative of the range of topics contributors might wish to develop, but it is not exhaustive and authors should feel free to put forward research on any topic consistent with the broad theme of the Call for Papers. We particularly welcome historical research that is relevant to contemporary debates, including articles that are comparative across nations. We are looking for historical contributions that make connections between entrepreneurial and philanthropic practices and processes.

  • Historical origins and transitions: the journey into philanthropy.
  • Philanthropic ideas, rewards, satisfactions and motivations.
  • Philanthropic activities, methods, problems, learning and commitments.
  • Social expectations and the choice of philanthropic causes and beneficiaries.
  • The origins and changing discourse of philanthropy.
  • Identity conflict and self-interest in the philanthropic endeavours of entrepreneurs.
  • Founder imprinting and the strategies and transitions of philanthropic foundations.
  • Historical institutionalism, institutional change and philanthropy.
  • Historical actors, philanthropy and the accumulation of social and symbolic capital.
  • Spouses and families in philanthropic decision making.
  • Philanthropy, social innovation and the rise of the non-profit sector.
  • Historical corporate philanthropy and corporate strategy.
  • Entrepreneurial, super-rich and philanthropic networks of the past.
  • Philanthropy, power, elite domination and social control in historical perspective.
  • Distributive justice and the ethics of entrepreneurial philanthropy.

Process, Timeline and Information

The deadline for the submission of papers for consideration for inclusion in the Special Issue is 31st December 2017.

Potential contributors should alert one of the guest editors of their intention to submit an article and seek advice as necessary at the earliest opportunity:

Charles Harvey:
Mairi Maclean:
Roy Suddaby:

A related workshop on Entrepreneur-Philanthropists in Theory and History will take place on the afternoon of 28th June 2017 at the University of Glasgow hosted by the guest editors. This will include a paper development session and there will be opportunities to meet personally with the guest editors.

All articles should be prepared following Business History Review conventions and should not exceed 10,000 words inclusive of footnote references, tables and charts. Submission is by the normal process for the journal clearly signalling that the article is intended for consideration for the Special Issue. The normal Business History Review blind reviewing process will apply.
Final decisions on submissions will be made by the journal editors, Walter Friedman and Geoffrey Jones, following recommendations from the guest editors.


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Atkinson, A.B., Piketty, T. and Saez, E. (2012). Top Incomes in the Long Run. Institute for Research on Labor and Employment: University of California, Berkeley.
Audretsch, D.B. and Hinger, J.R. (2014). From entrepreneur to philanthropist: Two sides of the same coin? In Taylor, M.L., Strom, R.J. and Renz, D.O. (2014). Handbook of Research on Entrepreneurs’ Engagement with Philanthropy: Perspectives. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar: 24-42.
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