CfP: University of Tübingen & University of Glasgow PhD Summer School

Business Beyond the Abyss: Crisis Management, Institutional Memory and Learning

3-5 November 2021, Tübingen, Germany.

The University of Tübingen’s Collaborative Research Center 923 – “Threatened Orders: Societies under Stress” (Germany) – provides funding for an intensive three-day event aimed at PhD students in business history or economic history working on any topic that overlaps with the theme of the school (for more details, see “Further Notes for Applicants” below). Students will, the pandemic permitting, be hosted in the historic town of Tübingen and will present, debate and discuss their works-in-progress with leading international scholars within a world-class university.

The school aims to provide doctoral students with an overview of relevant research and innovative tools and methodologies in the fields of business and economic history, including legal perspectives. It is the third event in this series organised jointly by the Seminar für Neuere Geschichte (Tübingen) and the Centre for Business History in Scotland (University of Glasgow), and this time joined by the Center for Law and Social Science (Emory University School of Law).

The school will take the form of presentations from students (c.25 minutes) and workshops hosted by established experts in the field. The aims of the school are:

1) to deepen students’ understanding of current themes in historical research (and how this can inform their own work);

2) to enhance research skills through masterclasses on methods for researching and writing history;

3) to explore the main theoretical underpinnings particular to business and economic history; and

4) to provide a welcoming and convivial environment in which students can discuss their research with leading scholars and peers.

Students will benefit from the experience of academics from Tübingen and beyond. Confirmed speakers include Prof. Dr. Boris Gehlen (Stuttgart), Dr Daniel Menning (Tübingen) and Dr Christopher Miller (Glasgow). We hope to confirm additional speakers in the coming weeks and months.

Funding will cover flights and/or trains (up to an agreed limit, to be reimbursed after the school), accommodation, lunches, and the conference meal for up to fourteen students. There may also be limited space for applicants who wish to self-fund or who have received funding from their own institution.

Those interested in attending the summer school should e-mail the following documents to the organisers, Dr Daniel Menning (Daniel.Menning@uni-tuebingen.de), Dr Christopher Miller (Christopher.Miller@glasgow.ac.uk), and Prof Rafael Pardo (rafael.pardo@emory.edu):

1)   a brief CV (two pages maximum);

2)   a summary of their PhD (two pages maximum); and

3)  a title and abstract for their desired presentation topic, which should incorporate one or more major themes of the student’s PhD (one page maximum).

While not required, applicants are strongly encouraged to submit with their materials an example of a work-in-progress (e.g., a draft chapter, article, or working paper), preferably in English, German, or French. Please note, however, that all presentations and discussions will be in English.

The deadline for applications is 15 July 2021A maximum of 14 funded applicants will be selected and notified shortly afterwards.

Further Notes for Applicants:

Overview of Scope and Aims of the School:

(This overview is only a guide. Students working on similar topics to those listed below are encouraged to speak to Daniel Menning and/or Christopher Miller in the first instance.)

With the COVID-19 virus spreading across the globe and many major economic countries shutting down social life and significant parts of the economy, we have been witnessing an economic contraction ensuing at an astonishing pace as well as an equally swift, though rather more varied, re- start. Though it is too early yet to estimate the effects and predict the duration of the economic difficulties (including, for example, current shortages of raw materials), it is clear that many businesses suffered and many remain in trouble. A significant number most likely will not survive, all governmental bailout packages notwithstanding. While interest in economic crises and their effects on businesses has increased over the past few years, the current conditions will likely give a new boost to research and result in a new thoughtfulness and a recalibration of research methods.

Research Background:

Business and economic history has been at the forefront of explaining some of the major changes in economies and societies – starting with the work of Alfred Chandler in the 1960s. (Chandler 1962, 1977). Nevertheless, with regards to the business history of crises and crisis management  specifically, the literature is far less well developed. There are three reasons for this neglect. First, the tradition of business history for several decades, until comparatively recently, was to study the history of individual firms, or less frequently sectors. Indeed, business history was once considered an applied branch of economic history for scholars wishing to move beyond macroeconomic trends. The net effect has been that the literature on firms has been dominated by commissioned histories where the historian is paid by the (surviving) company and given use of its archives. While often extremely valuable, these studies can tend towards “rise and fall” narratives.

Second, where business histories have studied crises specifically, commissioned works can potentially have some further methodological problems. Most obviously, many of the firms survived until at least the point the history was commissioned. Thus, it is perhaps a case of selection bias towards success – or at the very least towards the largest and most important companies (Berghoff 2006). Related to this, the nature of commissioned studies has also drawn criticism: namely, that success is often attributed to management rather than luck, while episodes of failure are attributed to external or unpredictable factors outside of management control.

Third, the causes and aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2008 have generated many millions of pages of scholarship and commentary in the last decade, with the effect of prompting historians to draw comparisons with the Wall Street Crash and Great Depression. For instance, Werner Abelshauser (2009) is one of many interested in learning from economic crises explicitly through using the examples of 1931 and 2008. While not every crisis was like 2008 in cause, scale or scope, it is not necessarily a new phenomenon: the 2000 dot-com bubble was compared in much the same way. (Ojala and Uskali 2006). As a result, the stock market crash in 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression have become by far the most studied economic crisis in history, with renewed interest from 2008 (Tooze 2019), while the effect of the more regular, smaller scale, economic crises suffered by businesses before and after 1929 is largely neglected.

The current economic conditions promise to bring new momentum to the study of businesses in times of larger and smaller economic difficulties, and we are therefore inviting PhD students working in the areas of business and

–            Crisis Management

–            Institutional memory

–            Learning

to submit proposals for the summer school.

Cambridge-LSE workshop on African Economic History 29-30 June 2021

The third annual Cambridge-LSE Workshop on African economic history will take place on Zoom from 29-30 June 2021. In this exceptional year, this workshop will be one of a series of smaller meetings replacing the annual meeting of the African Economic History Network, which has been postponed.

We are inviting submissions in all fields of African economic history, particularly from advanced PhD students and early career scholars. The workshop will be held over two half-days and the programme will focus on short presentation of pre-circulated papers.

Please submit a CV and extended abstract of 300-500 words to l.a.gardner@lse.ac.uk by 4 June, 2021.

Best wishes,
Leigh Gardner, on behalf of the African Economic History Network

CHRONOS Distinguished Online Lecture: Martin Kornberger (23 September)

The CHRONOS research centre at Royal Holloway University of London invites you to the ‘CHRONOS 2021 distinguished on-line lecture’ with Prof Martin Kornberger, 23 September 2021, 2-4pm UK time (via MS team).

About CHRONOS
CHRONOS is the Centre for Critical and Historical Research on Organization and Society. Our guiding purpose is to uncover the social and cultural dimensions and implications of any subject matter, interrogating and questioning mainstream approaches and practices as a way to make a positive difference for organisations, markets and society. We are based at the School of Business and Management at Royal Holloway, but we work with colleagues in other disciplines at Royal Holloway, especially History and Geography, and through partnerships with research groups at other institutions within and outside the UK. For more information visit our website.
Our main work streams are on:

  • Bureaucracy, Accountability and Control;
  • Critical Consumption and the Politics of Markets;
  • Identity and working life;
  • Silent Voices: Feminist and Subaltern Perspectives;
  • Space and Time in Organizations.

Director of CHRONOS: Prof. Elena Giovannoni (Elena.giovannoni@rhul.ac.uk)

Prof. Martin Kornberger will be talking about:

THE EMERGENCE OF A SOCIAL ACTOR:
THE CASE OF THE VIENNA CITY ADMINISTRATION AT THE FIN THE SIÈCLE

Abstract

This manuscript reports results of a preliminary inquiry into the formation of the City of Vienna as collective social actor at the turn of the 20th century. We use computational text analysis of administrative reports from 1867 to 1913 and an archival case-study to explain drastic increases in administrative capacity and autonomy during the Fin de Siècle. In its most formative period, the city was recovering from an economic crash and bureaucratic rationality was challenged by intellectuals and illiberal politicians alike. These conditions are inconsistent with legal-rational and institutional theories that explain the formation of organizational actorhood in the contemporary era; our analysis shows that the city’s formation reflected neither expansionist ideology nor the ambitions of a political machine nor delegation from a crumbling Empire. Instead, we observe the formation of the city as a collective social actor as a process in which (1) the capacity to act of the city’s administrative apparatus develops hand in hand with (2) the city’s increasingly differentiated and complex vision of its environment. Our analysis of this feedback loop contributes to sociological theories of actorhood and the understanding of the progressive welfare model as driven by categorical differentiation. 

Short bio 

Martin Kornberger received his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Vienna in 2002. Currently he holds a Chair in Strategy at the University of Edinburgh and is a visiting fellow at the Vienna University of Economics and Business. His research focuses on strategies for and organization of new forms of distributed and collective action. He can be reached at martin.kornberger@ed.ac.uk 

To attend the lecture, please email: elena.giovannoni@rhul.ac.uk 

Reminder! BizHisCol Webinar – Manuel Bautista with Boatloads of Mexican Silver

Boatloads of Mexican Silver. The Political Economy of Specie Imports in New Orleans, 1839-1861

Date/Time: 16/02/2021 @ 16.00hrs UK
Presenter: Manuel Bautista (Columbia University)
Register here.

This paper reconstructs the monetary geography of antebellum New Orleans from the economic crisis of 1839 to the US. Navy’s blockade of the port in 1861 through a quantitative and geographic examination of specie imports (gold and silver coins) flowing into the port. It also sheds light into the commercial and financial actors, networks, and circuits involved in the intermediation of specie in New Orleans before the U.S. Civil War. Drawing on a novel dataset assembled from the semi-weekly economic newspaper New Orleans Price-Current (the first of its kind in the scholarly literature on specie in the early U.S. economy), the paper explores the amounts, the provenance, the types of vessels for maritime transportation, and the top-tier consignees of specie imports flowing into antebellum New Orleans. Specie (primarily Mexican silver dollars) helped accommodate the Crescent City’s cross-border flows of goods and capital, mirroring its commercial and financial ties with the rest of the world. New Orleans was central for the antebellum U.S. specie market and money supply, as it imported vast specie flows (primarily Mexican silver dollars) from ports such as Brazos Santiago (Texas), Veracruz, Tampico (both in Mexico), and Havana (Cuba). Specie consignees relied on high-powered money flows to fund their business ventures as commission merchants, commodity factors, real estate investors, and agents of European and U.S. Northern merchant banking houses.

This is a webinar is jointly hosted by the Business History Collective Global and Iberoamérica.

Biz Hist Coll: “Boatloads of Mexican Silver” – presentation by Manuel Bautista

Boatloads of Mexican Silver. The Political Economy of Specie Imports in New Orleans, 1839-1861

Date: 16/02/2021 @11.00hrs Colombia, 16.00hrs UK
Presenter: Manuel Bautista (Columbia University)
Chair: TBC

Register here.

This paper reconstructs the monetary geography of antebellum New Orleans from the economic crisis of 1839 to the US. Navy’s blockade of the port in 1861 through a quantitative and geographic examination of specie imports (gold and silver coins) flowing into the port. It also sheds light into the commercial and financial actors, networks, and circuits involved in the intermediation of specie in New Orleans before the U.S. Civil War. Drawing on a novel dataset assembled from the semi-weekly economic newspaper New Orleans Price-Current (the first of its kind in the scholarly literature on specie in the early U.S. economy), the paper explores the amounts, the provenance, the types of vessels for maritime transportation, and the top-tier consignees of specie imports flowing into antebellum New Orleans. Specie (primarily Mexican silver dollars) helped accommodate the Crescent City’s cross-border flows of goods and capital, mirroring its commercial and financial ties with the rest of the world. New Orleans was central for the antebellum U.S. specie market and money supply, as it imported vast specie flows (primarily Mexican silver dollars) from ports such as Brazos Santiago (Texas), Veracruz, Tampico (both in Mexico), and Havana (Cuba). Specie consignees relied on high-powered money flows to fund their business ventures as commission merchants, commodity factors, real estate investors, and agents of European and U.S. Northern merchant banking houses.

Biz Hist Coll: 26 January 2021

How to Start an Early Modern Tax Haven: Smuggling, Fraud and Global Business in Eighteenth-century Britain

Date: 26/01/2021 @ 16:00 hrs London

Speaker:  David Chan Smith (Wilfrid Laurier University)
Follow David here: @davidchansmith
Moderator: Nicholas Wong (Nortumbria University, Newcastle)
Register here. Abstract below.

Source: https://theromneymarsh.net/smuggling

Tired of paying high customs duties recently introduced by the government? Looking for a competitive advantage in overseas markets or to access other imperial trading systems? This talk investigates the emergence of early modern tax havens around Britain. Tax havens are often assumed to be a modern phenomenon that responded to the establishment of corporate and income taxes. Yet traders in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries made creative and routine use of the jurisdictional peculiarities that existed within Europe. Local and national elites who saw these havens as sources of income sponsored these efforts even though they frequently involved fraud and smuggling. This talk will survey the functioning of the early modern tax avoidance system around Britain, explore the development of these havens and the response of central government. To illustrate its arguments, the paper examines a case study of the Isle of Man and its establishment in the 1720s as a tax avoidance hub in the Atlantic slave trade.

Paper presentation on Building Identity at the Bauhaus

I’ll be presenting a paper jointly authored with Elena Giovanonni (Royal Holloway) and Emmanuella Plakoyiannaki (Vienna) at Henley Business School on Wednesday 2nd December at 13.00 (UK time). If you’d like to join, please email me (stephanie.decker[at]bristol.ac.uk) and I pass on the Teams link.

Title:                     Building Identity: Architextual Resources in the Identity Formation of the Bauhaus

Presenter(s):     Stephanie Decker, University of Bristol

Abstract:

The Bauhaus School of Design (1919-1933) provides us with a micro-historical case study of identity formation, an area that has not been widely explored. We analyse the engagement between organizational identity and architecture as they both take form. We highlight the importance of architecture as an identity resource for the new school, and develop a framework that highlights four distinct ways in which spatial and material resources can support (or obstruct) identity formation: instrumental, by providing a space for organising; aesthetic, by visually pleasing organisational members; symbolic, by offering meaningful representation of organisational ideas; and finally temporal, by being enduring over time. We refer to the combination of these four potential elements as architextual, as they create a frame of narratives and discourses across material resources, people, practices and ideas that are inherent in the ideation, construction and interpretation of material artefacts. In our case narrative we show how these architextual identity resources not only helped the Bauhaus to overcome threats to its existence as a new organisation, but also in turn spurred on the creation of further architextual identity resources, not only helping to form and refine the school’s identity, but also facilitating multiple and shifting organizational identities over time. Finally, we show that architextual identity resources exist alongside other more commonly used resources such as discursive invocations of identity, but highlight that in particular the symbolic and temporal nature of architextual identity resources means that they remained pivotal and facilitated the emergence of a strong legacy when the Bauhaus was disbanded as an organisation after 14 years, while its influence as one of the leading design movements of the twentieth century endured.

CfP for the Business History Collective ‘Spring Webinar Series’

Deadline for submissions: Wednesday, 9th December

Following a highly successful summer webinar series, we are pleased to invite applications to contribute towards our spring webinar series, February – May 2021.

These events are primarily intended as a platform to share and discuss ongoing research, including working papers, dissertation chapters, and manuscripts under review.

Applications are not limited to a particular theme or set of topics; however, priority will be given to proposals of particular novelty, use of qualitative approaches, and historical periods preceding 1800 or subsequent to 1950.

We are also particularly interested in hearing from early career researchers, researchers from minority backgrounds (e.g., women, LGBTQ+, ethnic and racial minorities, underrepresented backgrounds/populations, etc.), as well as research and researchers located outside of Europe, North America, China and Japan.

Please write to the spring organizers, Ashton Merck (awb27@duke.edu) and Adam Nix (adam.nix@dmu.ac.uk), with any questions about the webinar series.

If you want to join as a presenter click here.

If you want to join as discussant or member of the audience click here

University of Bristol Webinar: Taylorism, generations & historical reflexivity in management scholarship

If you would like to join us for the University of Bristol School of Management Research Seminar hosted by the Strategy, International Management & Business, and Entrepreneurship (SIMBE) Academic Group, please email me (stephanie.decker[at]bristol.ac.uk) for the link.
Michael Weatherburn
(Imperial College London) 

Taylorism, generations and historical reflexivity in management scholarship
1st December, 12:30-13:30, Online Webinar (UK time)

Abstract
  

Building on increasingly confident scholarly studies (e.g. Decker, Hassard & Rowlinson, 2020; Maclean, Clegg, Suddaby, & Harvey, 2020), this project braids together history and organisation studies, and explores the historical origins and trajectory of ‘Taylorism’. As will be discussed, ‘Taylorism’ had two original meanings but mutated and expanded as part of growing scholarship on the labour process, organisation studies and political activism from the 1960s onwards. This entangled situation is still with us and indeed scholars suggest that ‘Taylorism’ presents us with a generational problem to solve (see Roper, 1999; Nyland, Bruce and Burns, 2014; Bruce et al, 2020). Addressing these points, the goal of this presentation is to both refine analysis of the historical impact of management on labour and to further demonstrate the value of historical reflexivity in management scholarship. 

Key words: Taylorism, history, organization studies, Gramsci, labour, reflexivity.

Biography 

Dr Michael Weatherburn is Field Leader of Humanities and Social Sciences and Data Science Institute Academic Fellow at Imperial College London, where he teaches history, digital studies and business ethics. He has a PhD in the history of science and technology, is Honorary Associate Professor at Hong Kong University, and History & Policy convenor at the UK Government Office for Science. He works with public and private sector clients through his consultancy, Project Hindsight (https://projecthindsight.co.uk/).  

Next event of Biz Hist Collective – 18 November

Paths Taken: The Strategic Trajectories of Retail Organisations in the United States and the United Kingdom, 1950-1980

Date: 18/11/2020 @ 16.00 hrs London
Speaker: Tom Buckely (Sheffield)
Moderator: Nicholas Wong (Northumbria)

Building on recent advances in knowledge relating to the evolution and transformation of retail institutions (Howard, 2015) and specific retail organisations (Scott and Walker, 2017; Buckley, 2018) this paper examines the strategic trajectories of retail organisations operating in the United States and the United Kingdom between 1950 and 1980. Taking an international comparative approach, the question this research seeks to answers is “how did the strategy of retail organisations develop over this thirty-year period and why did retail organisations take the strategic decisions that they did?” This question is addressed through utilising archival evidence from a department operating in the United Kingdom (the John Lewis Partnership) and the United States (Strawbridge and Clothier) and mass merchandisers operating in the UK (Marks and Spencer) and the U.S. (J.C. Penney). The archival data is utilised to examine both internal methods of organisation and managerial evaluations of the external environment retailers were operating in. The assessment of archival data reveals that each retailer took a different strategic direction, and that critical for the strategic success of the company, was the extent to which each retailer managed to construct a coherent, consistent retail proposition enabling them to function as an orchestrator of supply and demand. 

Register here.

All sessions at 10.00 Bogota / 16.00 hrs London

All speakers, abstracts and registration details available at: https://bizhiscollective.wordpress.com/agenda/

Look forward to seeing you there!

On behalf of the Business History Collective