Event at the HBS Business History Initiative

Understanding and Overcoming the Roadblocks to Sustainability

Over the past several decades, a vibrant scholarly community has generated thousands of empirical and conceptual studies on the complex relationship between business and the natural environment. At the same time, many large corporations have created positions of Corporate Sustainability Officer with the goal of achieving steady improvements in their sustainability performance. Despite substantial academic research and management attention, complex ecological challenges continue to grow. This unfortunate disconnect between aspirations and reality has begun to provoke some self-reflection in the business and natural environment literature concerning its impact and relevance.

A significant body of research on corporate sustainability has examined win-win outcomes, where firms have reduced their environmental and other impacts while reaping economic benefits. Less attention has been devoted to tensions inherent in corporate sustainability, where moving in the direction of sustainability has required managers to change their business models, form risky partnerships, and otherwise incur net costs. Recent empirical business history research appears to show that profits and sustainability have been hard to reconcile throughout history. These tensions and conflicts merit careful examination from a variety of scholarly and practitioner perspectives.

This conference will focus on the roadblocks to sustainability since the 1960s and develop a research agenda for scholars seeking to overcome those roadblocks. In addition to offering a retrospective analysis of where corporate sustainability has fallen short, the conference will explore the incentives, organizational designs, and institutional systems that would allow sustainability to take hold.

Registration details can be found on the conference registration page.



ToC: BH 60,5 SI on Institutional Change

Special issue in: Historical research on institutional change

Special issue introduction: Historical research on institutional change
Stephanie Decker, Behlül Üsdiken, Lars Engwall & Michael Rowlinson
Pages: 613-627 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2018.1427736

Interfield Dynamics: Law and the creation of new organisational fields in the nineteenth-century United States
R. Daniel Wadhwani
Pages: 628-654 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1346610

Moral dividends: Freemasonry and finance capitalism in early-nineteenth-century America
Pamela A. Popielarz
Pages: 655-676 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1248946

Hey DJ, don’t stop the music: Institutional work and record pooling practices in the United States’ music industry |
Neil Thompson
Pages: 677-698 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1308485

Managing the paradox of unwanted efficiency: The symbolic legitimation of the hypermarket format in Finland, 1960–1975
Jarmo Seppälä
Pages: 699-727 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1304540

Change dynamics in institutional discontinuities: Do formal or informal institutions change first? Lessons from rule changes in professional American baseball
Aya S. Chacar, Sokol Celo & William Hesterly
Pages: 728-753 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1342811

From data problems to questions about sources: elements towards an institutional analysis of population-level organisational change. The case of British building societies, 1845–1980
Olivier Butzbach
Pages: 754-777 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1274304

Correction to: Interfield Dynamics: Law and the creation of new organisational fields in the nineteenth-century United States
Pages: x-x | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2018.1432458

BH change of citation style

Business History has changed its referencing style to author-date (APA). If you are unclear how to cite your archival sources in the new format, please see our editorial on the topic:


If your manuscript is already under review, you can keep the old style footnotes. All new submissions from January 2018 onwards should be in the new format, and we plan to publish manuscripts in the new style from the first issue of 2019.

Stephanie Decker

on behalf of the Business History editorial team


CfP BH extended deadline

Bank-Industry versus Stock Market-Industry Relationships: A Business History Approach

Business History Call for Papers: Special Issue

Extended Deadline: 31 May 2018


During the Golden Age of the western economies (1950s-1960s) became clear that each country had to follow its own way to industrialization. For the full understanding of these processes, there was a growing interest for the use of an historical perspective. In this line of research, the book that Alexander Gerschenkron, professor at Harvard University, published in 1962 entitled Economic Backwardness in Historical Perspective had much impact. In this seminal book, which proposed the concept of the “conditional convergence”, Gerschenkron proposed that financial institutions (not financial markets), by acting as “substitutive factor”, play a fundamental role in industrialization, as the German case had proved.

Gerschenkron’s thesis was challenged by Raymond Goldsmith, the author of Financial Structure and Development (1969), who proposed not to leave financial markets out of the analysis, because they were also part of the financial system and could contribute to economic development, understood as something broader than industrialization. Goldsmith’s approach was also influential, although Gerschenkron’s book fit better with the spirit of Golden Age governments, which were willing to put the banks (both public and private) at the service of the industrial policies (see Tortella & García-Ruiz 2013, Chapter 8, for the emblematic Spanish case).

From the Gerschenkron-Goldsmith debate, a line of research was developed by focusing on identifying the financial systems of countries as either bank-oriented or market-oriented (Bordo & Sylla 1995; Allen & Gale 2000), stressing the differences between them. Later on, Caroline Fohlin (2007, 2012, 2016) believed that this was a false polemic and gave historical arguments for a skeptical view of the issue. Nevertheless, she presents a new taxonomy, a “rough classification”, of the different financial systems based on the prevalence of different type of banks.

At the time, the economist Ross Levine and his associates (e.g. Levine & Zervos 1998) wanted to approach the problem from a quantitative perspective, trying to answer a very simple question: which system contributes most to economic development? Levine managed to involve the World Bank in his research and promoted the creation of the Global Financial Development Database (Beck, Demirgüç-Kunt & Levine 2000), whose recent exploitation is allowing a better exploration in the long run of the complexity of the relationships proposed in the 1960s by Gerschenkron and Goldsmith.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the deregulation of financial systems led to an approximation between institutions and financial markets that paved the way to the belief that the old divide had become obsolete (Rajan & Zingales 2003). However, the latest analyses detect the persistence of significant differences between national financial systems (Gambacorta, Yang & Tsatsaronis 2014).

It seems clear that much can be learned about the bank-industry and stock market-industry relationships if they are addressed from a Business History perspective, which until now has been almost completely neglected. For this reason it is proposed the launching of a special issue of Business History, based on a Call for Papers, aiming to obtain fresh articles that address the classical issues on the subject with a new Business History approach:

– Evidence of the advantages of the bank-industry relationship over the stock market-industry relationship or vice versa;

– The banking-industry relationship in the networks of large national banks and the networks of small local banks (Vasta et al. 2017);

– Persistence of the differences between financial systems based on Varieties of Capitalism (VoC) and/or Law & Finance (common law versus civil law countries) approaches;

– Access to finance by business size: large, medium and small companies facing markets and financial institutions;

– The role of managers in fostering the stock market performance of the firms;

– The best way to innovate: is the stock market the most appropriate way to finance and promote the innovative capabilities of the firm?;

– The problem of “financialisation”: too much money in the economy breaks the direct relationship between financing and economic development as proposed (Law & Sing, 2014)?

Submission instructions

This special issue welcomes contributions on the history of the bank-industry and stock market-industry relationships, especially if they use interdisciplinary and new methodologies and cross-country comparisons.

Articles should be based on original research and should not be under consideration by other journal. All articles should be submitted by 31 March 2018 via ScholarOne (https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/fbsh? utm_source=CPB&utm_medium=cms&utm_campaign=JMO03712) , using the drop down to select submission to the Special Issue on Bank-Industry versus Stock Market-Industry Relationships: A Business History Approach. All the articles will be peer reviewed and, therefore, some may be rejected. Authors should ensure that their manuscripts comply with the Business History formatting standards, which can be found on the ‘Instructions for Authors’ (http://tandfonline.com/action/authorSubmission?journalCode=fbsh20&page=instructions&utm_source=CPB&utm_medium=cms&utm_campaign=JMO03712) page. Authors who are not English native speakers are responsible for having a native English-speaking copyeditor check and correct their texts before final acceptance.

The articles initially selected for the Special Issue will be presented in a workshop that will take place in Madrid in June 2018, sponsored by available public funds. The final version of the papers should be the result of this workshop.


Allen, F. & Gale, D. (2000), Comparing Financial Systems, Cambridge (Mass.), MIT Press.

Beck, T., Demirgüç-Kunt, A. & Levine, R. (2000), “A New Database on Financial Development and Structure,” World Bank Economic Review, 14, 597-605.

Bordo, M. & Sylla, R. (eds) (1995), Anglo-American Financial Systems: Institutions and Markets in the Twentieth Century, New York, Irwin.

Fohlin, C. (2007), Finance Capitalism and Germany’s Rise to Industrial Power, Cambridge & New York, Cambridge University Press.

Fohlin, C. (2012), Mobilizing Money: How the World’s Richest Nations Financed Industrial Growth, Cambridge & New York, Cambridge University Press.

Fohlin, C. (2016), “Financial Systems and Economic Development in Historical Perspective,” in C. Diebolt & M. Haupert (eds), The Handbook of Cliometrics, Berlin, Springer Verlag, 393-430.

Gambacorta, L., Yang, J. & Tsatsaronis, K. (2014), “Financial Structure and Growth,” BIS Quarterly Review, March, 21-35.

Gerschenkron, A. (1962), Economic Backwardness in Historical Perspective: A Book of Essays, Cambridge (Mass.), The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Goldsmith, R.W. (1969), Financial Structure and Development, New Haven, Yale University.

Law, S.H. & Singh, N. (2014), “Does Too Much Finance Harm Economic Growth?,” Journal of Banking and Finance, 41, 36-44.

Levine, R. & Zervos, S. (1998), “Stock Markets, Banks and Economic Growth,” American Economic Review, 88, 537-558.

Rajan, R. & Zingales, L. (2003), Banks and Markets: The Changing Character of European Finance, Cambridge (Mass.), NBER Working Paper 9595.

Tortella, G. & García-Ruiz, J.L. (2013), Spanish Money and Banking. A History, Basingstoke & New York, Palgrave Macmillan.

Vasta, M., Drago, C., Ricciuti, R. & Rinaldi, A. (2017), “Reassessing the Bank-Industry Relationship in Italy, 1913-1936: A Counterfactual Analysis,” Cliometrica, 11, 183-216.

Editorial information

Guest Editor: José L. García-Ruiz, Complutense University of Madrid, Spain (jlgarciaruiz@ccee.ucm.es)

Guest Editor: Michelangelo Vasta, University of Siena, Italy (michelangelo.vasta@unisi.it)

TOC: BH 60,2 (2018)

The new issue of Business History is out! It features the first Perspectives article, a topical review article mapping emerging and established research themes.


Thinking about industry decline: A qualitative meta-analysis and future research directions
Juha-Antti Lamberg, Jari Ojala & Mirva Peltoniemi
Pages: 127-156 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1340943

Original Articles

The drivers of firm longevity: Age, size, profitability and survivorship of Australian corporations, 1901–1930
Laura Panza, Simon Ville & David Merrett
Pages: 157-177 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1293041

Longevity challenges and leadership interventions: Strategy journeys of two Indian banks
Kamal R. Sharma & Mukund R. Dixit
Pages: 178-201 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1363735

A European role in intra-Asian commercial development: The Maclaine Watson network and the Java sugar trade c.1840–1942
Alexander Claver & G. Roger Knight
Pages: 202-230 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1295955

Accessing capital markets: Aristocrats and new share issues in the British bicycle boom of the 1890s
Shima Amini & Steven Toms
Pages: 231-256 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1310196

Trading forward: The Paris Bourse in the nineteenth century
Paul Lagneau-Ymonet & Angelo Riva
Pages: 257-280 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1316487

Book Reviews

Jean Monnet, banquier, 1914–1945. Intérêts privés et intérêt général
Hubert Bonin
Pages: 281-282 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1156220

On the origins of self-service
Emanuela Scarpellini
Pages: 282-283 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1334347

Regulating competition. Cartel registers in the twentieth-century world
Mária Hidvégi
Pages: 283-286 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1338870

Les banques et les mutations des entreprises. Le cas de Lille-Roubaix-Tourcoing aux XIXe et XXe siècles
Carlo Brambilla
Pages: 286-288 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1339960


ToC BH: Change in Referencing Style and SI on the Business of War


Change of referencing style
Stephanie Decker , Ray Stokes, Andrea Colli, Abe de Jong, Paloma Fernandez Perez & Neil Rollings
Pages: 1-3 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1386762
Special issue on: Business of war

War and economy. Rediscovering the eighteenth-century military entrepreneur |
Rafael Torres-Sánchez, Pepijn Brandon & Marjolein ‘t Hart
Pages: 4-22 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1379507


The impact of war: New business networks and small-scale contractors in Britain, 1739–1770
Gordon Bannerman
Pages: 23-40 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1312687


The French navy and war entrepreneurs: Identity, business relations, conflicts, and cooperation in the eighteenth century
David Plouviez
Pages: 41-56 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1366986


Military entrepreneurs and the development of the French economy in the eighteenth century
Pierrick Pourchasse
Pages: 57-71 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1351952


The Spanish monarchy as a contractor state in the eighteenth century: Interaction of political power with the market
Sergio Solbes Ferri
Pages: 72-86 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1349107


War contracting and artillery production in Spain
Agustín González Enciso
Pages: 87-104 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1379508


Shipbuilding administration under the Spanish Habsburg and Bourbon regimes (1590‒1834): A comparative perspective
Ivan Valdez-Bubnov
Pages: 105-125 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1391219

Change of BH referencing style

On behalf of the Business History editorial team, I am happy to announce that for submissions from January 2018 onwards, Business History has changed the referencing style to Taylor & Francis’ version of APA – i.e. in-text author-date citations. The aim is to bring our referencing practice in line with the social science community after analysing the institutional background of our authors in the last few years. This means that from 2019, all articles will be published in author-date format.

To read the editorial explaining our decision, please go here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00076791.2017.1386762

CfP Imagining new markets

CFP: Imagining New Markets

by Erika Vause


Risk, Honor & Innovation: Imagining New Markets

3rd Biennial Richard Robinson Workshop on Business History

Portland State University

May 24-26, 2018 Portland OR

How did “innovation” become something to strive for, an end in itself? And how did “the market” come to be thought of as the space of innovation? The modern economy, according to Joseph Schumpeter, is based on “creative destruction”: the expectation of acceleration, expansion, and growth. As evoked by this term, novelty and dynamism are not only viewed as inevitable, but also generally beneficial. The market, market-relations, and the marketplace, have become key markers of what is forward-looking and progress-oriented in modern societies. These markers delineated an impersonal sphere of scientific, technical and agentless activities whose workings seemingly lay outside the realm of desires and emotions. Our workshop seeks to break down the divide between the impersonal (effects of technical limits and aggregations of large numbers) and the subjective (articulations of perceptions, fears, and self-regard) in the ways “the market” and “the economy” are conceived. We aim to reconsider market and business activities in light of both the techniques and the emotional vectors that infuse them.

This conference brings together scholars interested in querying this view of innovation and in exploring the emotional life of this phenomenon—scholars who seek to understand how markets have been created and expanded, as well as what was destroyed in the process. How did the introduction and promotion of new commodities and desires—as well as the lifestyles with which they were associated—affect the norms of acceptable market practices? While “supply” and “demand” are often presumed to be fixed categories, this interrogates how demands are created and sources of supply substituted (as in import substitution). What makes people want or even need something, particularly something they have never possessed before? How did expanded supplies of new commodities change prevailing views of what constituted personhood—how did soap, for example, become a requisite of civilization, curtains of domesticity, leisure of civility, and stock shares of sociality? Our workshop is in particular interested in the interplay of risk and honor in shaping new markets. Risk, refracted as perceptions of danger or opportunity, frequently worked to push the boundaries of acceptable market/business behavior. Honor, by contrast, could function to proscribe risk-taking to maintain a society’s status quo. But honor, as indicator of social standing and model for emulation, could also encourage entrepreneurship and expand the marketization of consumption. How did new markets emerge and old marketplaces become transformed amid these multivalent pulls?

We are looking for business histories (broadly construed) that tackle this intersection of desire, norms and markets in a variety of ways from all time periods and places, and we particularly encourage proposals on global, transnational, and non-Western topics and on developments before the twentieth century. Possible themes include, but are not limited to:

  • Advertising, marketing, branding, and promotion of new products
  • Counterfeiting, generic goods, and knock-offs
  • Hucksterism, frauds, forgeries and deceit
  • Honor and dishonor
  • New forms of consumption/distribution and new lifestyles
  • Fashion and fads
  • Black markets and gray economies
  • Changing ethics of markets and changing boundaries of marketplace
  • Hedging, insurance, gambling, and speculation
  • Public debts and private assets
  • Banking, usury, and money supply
  • Exoticism, empire/emporium, and trade routes
  • The introduction and international migration of new products, services, sales techniques, and business models
  • Entrepreneurs, individual agency, and the invisible hand

The keynote address of the third biennial Richard Robinson Workshop will be given by Professor François R. Velde, Senior Economist and Research Advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, on the evening of Thursday, May 24. Papers selected for the workshop will be pre-circulated and discussed in plenary sessions on Friday, May 25, and Saturday, May 26.

Paper proposals, consisting of a one-page CV and a 500-word abstract, should be sent to the workshop organizers, Thomas Luckett (Portland State University), Chia Yin Hsu (Portland State University), and Erika Vause (Florida Southern College), at psu.business.history.workshop@gmail.com by November 15, 2017. Accepted proposals will be notified by January 5, 2018.

Presenters will receive lodging for three nights and meals. There will be no charge for conference registration. We are likely to provide some reimbursement of travel expenses depending on the availability of funds.

SI on Narratives & Business History now out!

I am very pleased to announce that the final issue of the year for Business History is the excellent special issue on narratives in Business History, edited by Mads Mordhorst & Stefan Schwarzkopf.

Business History, Volume 59, Issue 8, November 2017 is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

Narrative Turn and Business History

This new issue contains the following articles:

Original Articles

Theorising narrative in business history
Mads Mordhorst & Stefan Schwarzkopf
Pages: 1155-1175 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1357697

The strategic use of historical narratives: a theoretical framework
William M. Foster, Diego M. Coraiola, Roy Suddaby, Jochem Kroezen & David Chandler
Pages: 1176-1200 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1224234

How business historians can save the world – from the fallacy of self-made success
Pamela Walker Laird
Pages: 1201-1217 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1251904

Narrative, metaphor and the subjective understanding of historic identity transition
Mairi Maclean , Charles Harvey & Lindsay Stringfellow
Pages: 1218-1241 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1223048

Writing business history: Creating narratives
Andrew Popp & Susanna Fellman
Pages: 1242-1260 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1250742

Narrating histories of women at work: Archives, stories, and the promise of feminism
Gabrielle Durepos, Alan McKinlay & Scott Taylor
Pages: 1261-1279 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1276900

Histories of leadership in the Copenhagen Phil – A cultural view of narrativity in studies of leadership in symphony orchestras
Søren Friis Møller
Pages: 1280-1302 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1335306
Book Reviews

La place financière de Paris au xxe siècle. Des ambitions contrariées
Hubert Bonin
Pages: 1303-1305 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2016.1156219

Les concessions hydroélectriques dans le grand sud-ouest, Histoire et débats 1902/2015
Alain Beltran
Pages: 1305-1306 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1321165

Wall streeters: The creators and corruptors of American finance
C. Edoardo Altamura
Pages: 1306-1308 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1326434

America’s bank: The epic struggle to create the Federal Reserve
Linda Arch
Pages: 1308-1309 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1326435

Start with the future and work back: a heritage management manifesto
Daniele Pozzi
Pages: 1310-1311 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1328995

The international aluminium cartel, 1886–1978: The business and politics of a cooperative industrial institution
Valerio Cerretano
Pages: 1311-1313 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1331544


BH 59,7 October 2017 issue is now out!

Business History, Volume 59, Issue 7, October 2017 is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

Business and Global Environmental History

This new issue contains the following articles:

Special Issue Articles

Uniting business history and global environmental history
Andrew Smith & Kirsten Greer
Pages: 987-1009 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1338688
Knowing nature in the business records of the Hudson’s Bay Company, 1670–1840
George Colpitts
Pages: 1054-1080 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1304914

Original Articles

Making the global local? Overseas goods in English rural shops, c.1600–1760
Jon Stobart
Pages: 1136-1153 | DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2017.1293040